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shadekitty

Medical collections for deceased mother

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My mother passed away nearly 2 years ago. She did not own anything in her name, and there was no money in savings (joint with my dad) at the time of her passing.... but they lived in Texas (a community property state) and the house is paid in full.

 

The house is solely in my dads name. That is the only property "they" owned.

 

Her medical bills were quite high and were were initially told they cannot do much as there wasn't an estate. Now tge bills are being addressed to my mothers estate via my dads name.

 

I know advice given here isn't legal.. But I would appreciate feedback from anyone who has been in this situation... Or advice that we should seek out an attorney.

 

Can they force a sale or attach to the house at all in a community property state such as Texas or is the house not touchable. 

 

TIA CB!

 

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No they can't force a sale of your father's house. No they can't legally collect a dime from your father. Yes you can stop the harassment. Your mother was likely covered under SOME kind of insurance, medicare, medicaid etc. See if there are any records of what was paid.

 

Have your father do this;

https://whychat.me/GUIDEBOOK.html

Obviously he doesn't need to delete old addresses or get an MIB report.

If he is being called or written to by CAs trying to collect FROM HIM for your late mother's medical accounts, have him send any one that has communicated with him in any way this.

 https://whychat.me/ltrcavalhipaa.html

 

There should be NO accounts on HIS reports for your mother's medical bills unless she was insured under an insurance policy carried by your father. IF there are ANY such entries, and IF she was covered under his insurance then legally he MAY be liable for unpaid co-pays or deductibles. If so, have him get the EOMBs ( explanation of medical benefits) from his insurance. He still can not be sued for any valid bills unless he has other assets such as other real estate (not his home) or bank accounts that were not derived from pensions, SS or insurance proceeds.

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Sadly she was not covered under any insurance and wouldn't let me intervene in any of their affairs until it was too late. 

 

The hospital kept releasing my mom because of lack of insurance. She would stabilize in the hospital and get out for a week and end back up in the hospital via the ER for congestive heart failure. She couldn't be released to a rehab because of the lack of insurance. No one would (understandably) take her. The hospital did eventually attempt to try to get her insured, but she was released 3 days later. Once released, the social worker stopped the paperwork. This repeated the other 2 times she was in the hospital with no one finishing the paperwork because of her release. I had no idea this was going on until after she passed. I ripped the hospital coordinator after I found that out when they came crying to me that they weren't getting paid anything for her stays. They now complete paperwork, regardless of patents status in the hospital thanks to that conversation.

 

Because my mom passed, they wouldn't let us complete her paperwork with the state. I needed a different POA other than the medical POA I obtained while she was in ICU to complete it. After death, the POA would have been invalid anyway... at least that's how it was explained to me.  I don't know if that is true or not, considering all the BS we were told by the hospital anyway. 

 

Dad didn't have insurance until after my mom passed and I stepped in and got POA and took care of it all.  My dad is in a much better situation now financially, physically (thanks to insurance) and mentally...  I take care of everything for him.

 

So far no calls to him. Just the letters addressed to him in his name for my mothers "estate". Other than the house and a $1200 truck - they had nothing.  

 

I have complete POA for anything financial, real estate, etc - so I will take a look at your links and take care of it.  Thank you @Why Chat

 

 

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In addition: No other real estate or items owned. She had a truck in her name (although it was my dads) but it is worth maybe $1000 currently (early 80's model truck). If they really want that - they can come and pick that thing up... I'd love to have a reason to get him something newer and more reliable.

 

Bank account funds were solely SS. She had no income of her own. 

 

 

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I am so sorry for your loss and for the terrible care she received from the hospital administration. I assume she was fairly young--( under 65 ) and had never applied for ANY social services?? Don't worry about anything being "seized" but be very careful to NOT put anything of value in your father's name or sign any responsibility for any of his obligations. 

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Posted (edited)

Who was the executor of the estate?  Even if there is 'not much of an estate,' there still should have been someone serving in the capacity of executor or executrix.  Did letters testamentary issue?  Were notices placed in a publication of the passing and providing contact information for the executor/executrix?  Were billings sent in a reasonable manner to the attention OF the executor/executrix? 

 

Generally speaking, three to six months is the reasonable window of time in which claims will be entertained.  After that, the parties that show up late often get told to pound sand, although the Estates Code speaks to a two-year window for preparing the reports closing the estate. 

 

You were correctly advised that a POA does not survive the deceased.  I actually had a client some years ago that had continued to act in business interests using a POA following the death of a partner.  Even though the business transaction was profitable, it was an illegal act, specifically misapplication of fiduciary property, and she went to prison.  Compounding the situation was that she should have known better due to the professional licensures held by the client...

 

As pertains to the current efforts being made to collect, have letters been sent that advise them of the death?  If not, why not.  Many of these matters, when they arise after this much time, often go away when a well-written letter is sent along with a copy of the death certificate.  This is why it is often advisable to get 25-30 copies of a death certificate in the beginning.  Better to have them and not need them than it is to have to try and get them a few years down the road...I've had to deal with this for both dad and for a grandparent. 

Edited by centex

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2 hours ago, Why Chat said:

If there is no actual estate there is no executor or publishing of notices.

There are assets, minimal as they may be.  There should STILL have been actions taken consistent with the Estates Code. 

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There's no assets. The truck is in my dad's name now and is only worth $1k (85 Chevy with 300,000 miles).  Like I said before - if they want that, they can have it :)

 

She had no income and was a stay at home mom since I was little. She owned no property or really anything. They lost their house a few years before in forclosure which she left pretty much everything behind. The house they moved into was my grandmothers although in my dad's name (not her name). which I've been told is protected currently. State is Texas. 

 

I have all the death certificates I need still and can mail them. I got 20 expecting to have to contact a lot more than we did. Initially we may have been given bad information to wait it out considering we were trying to collect all of the bills to determine if we could sue for medical malpractice. The lawyer we consulted with told us that we had a case in regards to her death, but in the great state of Texas, that we were looking at an uphill battle - as the doctors there had a lot of protections and that the lawyers generally wouldn't even look at the case unless it made them a good amount of money and her debt from death was over $250k. 

 

There is no estate from what we were told and that my dad could handle any of the requests that came in. I got POA for my dad on everything (real estate, finances, etc) and was acting in place of my dad to take care of everything to make it easier on him. I buried her, I notified the hospitals of her death (even though she died in the same hospital system, they didn't see anything that told them that). I changed all the utilities to my dad. Beyond that, we still continued to get bills and still do that say they will report to the CRA's unless paid.  I think some of them got the idea without my intervention from trying to insert on her credit report. 

 

It's been about 2.5 years at this point since her death. I was hoping to just wait out SOL on collecting in Texas.  So far only one bill has come addressed to the estate. I assume that no one has noticed her credit reports don't exist, or haven't tried to insert - I did notify the 3 CRA's and SS of her passing. 

 

 

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On 4/24/2019 at 4:16 PM, centex said:

There are assets, minimal as they may be.  There should STILL have been actions taken consistent with the Estates Code. 

I'm in PA currently, so I'm not familiar with TX code - we were told initially it would just go to my father if there was anything of value, but since she owned nothing other than the truck - then nothing needed to be done. 

 

Now for my dad, I have gotten a will completed so that when he passes, nothing is contested and it all comes to me (only child) to make this process easier since there will be an estate in that situation. 

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On 4/24/2019 at 2:22 PM, Why Chat said:

If there is no actual estate there is no executor or publishing of notices.

One of the hospitals I spoke with to notify them of her death said something similar. That if there is no estate they didn't need to be notified - they didn't even ask me for a copy of the death cert, although I had assumed because it was the same hospital system they wouldn't need it since she died in that system. 

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On 4/15/2019 at 11:42 PM, Why Chat said:

I am so sorry for your loss and for the terrible care she received from the hospital administration. I assume she was fairly young--( under 65 ) and had never applied for ANY social services?? Don't worry about anything being "seized" but be very careful to NOT put anything of value in your father's name or sign any responsibility for any of his obligations. 

  • I am AU on all of his credit cards, not co-signed - so when that time comes, I'm not responsible for any of it - but I can use the cards to buy him whatever he needs. Not to mention it's a nice boost to my own CR since his scores are way better than mine now thanks to CB!
  • I am on his bank accounts, with survivorship - so I can use the funds in the account to pay bills and the money will come to me after death.
  • I'm researching whether or not to add myself to the deed of the house. Everything comes to me in the will - so I'm not sure if this is important to do to reduce the probate process when he passes. Initially I couldn't put my name on the house, because of my kids SSI. If I own more than one property, we loose the ability to stay on SSI for their medication each month. This is still the case, but at least in PA, they would roll over to Medical Assistance so this isn't as big of an issue as I had thought initially. 
  • He still doesn't own anything of value other than the house and truck (now officially in his name). He still watches TV on a CRT style TV :)

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On 4/24/2019 at 11:02 AM, centex said:
Quote

 

Who was the executor of the estate?  Even if there is 'not much of an estate,' there still should have been someone serving in the capacity of executor or executrix.  Did letters testamentary issue?  Were notices placed in a publication of the passing and providing contact information for the executor/executrix?  Were billings sent in a reasonable manner to the attention OF the executor/executrix? 


 

 

Unofficially I was acting as Executrix via my dad's POA. There was never a letters testamentary issued - we were told we didn't need to do so, again possible "bad advice".  No notices were placed about contact information, only her obituary. 

 

Quote

 

Generally speaking, three to six months is the reasonable window of time in which claims will be entertained.  After that, the parties that show up late often get told to pound sand, although the Estates Code speaks to a two-year window for preparing the reports closing the estate. 

 

You were correctly advised that a POA does not survive the deceased.  I actually had a client some years ago that had continued to act in business interests using a POA following the death of a partner.  Even though the business transaction was profitable, it was an illegal act, specifically misapplication of fiduciary property, and she went to prison.  Compounding the situation was that she should have known better due to the professional licensures held by the client...

 

As pertains to the current efforts being made to collect, have letters been sent that advise them of the death?  If not, why not.  Many of these matters, when they arise after this much time, often go away when a well-written letter is sent along with a copy of the death certificate.  This is why it is often advisable to get 25-30 copies of a death certificate in the beginning.  Better to have them and not need them than it is to have to try and get them a few years down the road...I've had to deal with this for both dad and for a grandparent.

 

 

 

Not to mention they are cheaper to obtain when the person first passes at the funeral home than they are to get them the 2nd time. I think I paid $20 for the first copy and $5.00 for each after that the first time around. I was told they would be $20 each after that if I had to request them from the state. 

 

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6 hours ago, shadekitty said:
  • I am AU on all of his credit cards, not co-signed - so when that time comes, I'm not responsible for any of it - but I can use the cards to buy him whatever he needs. Not to mention it's a nice boost to my own CR since his scores are way better than mine now thanks to CB!
  • I am on his bank accounts, with survivorship - so I can use the funds in the account to pay bills and the money will come to me after death. Are you a signatory on the account now?? I hope so
  • I'm researching whether or not to add myself to the deed of the house. Everything comes to me in the will - so I'm not sure if this is important to do to reduce the probate process when he passes. Initially I couldn't put my name on the house, because of my kids SSI. If I own more than one property, we loose the ability to stay on SSI for their medication each month. This is still the case, but at least in PA, they would roll over to Medical Assistance so this isn't as big of an issue as I had thought initially. You MIGHT want to consider having the house put into a living trust so that it will pass to you without any glitches
  • He still doesn't own anything of value other than the house and truck (now officially in his name). He still watches TV on a CRT style TV :)

 

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Yes, I am signatory now on the bank accounts (with survivorship). I'll check into the living trust recommendation. Thanks!

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