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Liability for Spouse's Emergency Medical Expenses

Question: Husband passed away last year, leaving no assets. I am very angry for the way he left his family with the bills and don’t want to pay for his stubbornness. There are three bills that I am being constantly bugged for, ambulance, hospital and treatment.

Answer: If you were living with your husband and the provider did not contract with your husband alone, you may be liable. Illinois law makes you liable for expenses of the family, which generally would include necessary medical care. Under federal law, one spouse has the right to contract based on his/her credit alone, and if that is done federal law displaces state law. However, emergency services such as an ambulance are probably not separately contracted for. An attorney would have to review any contracts to advise you with respect to the hospital and doctor bills.

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