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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
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    14

    Default Widow Responsible for Medical Debt if I Die

    My question involves collection proceedings in the State of: Pennsylvania

    PA isn't a community property state. So if I had credit cards in my name only, she's not responsible for them I believe. How about medical debt? Our accounts all have beneficiaries on them (ourselves and our kids), mostly separate retirement accounts. We have joint checking and savings accounts (smallish balances) and a home that's deeded tenants in common. She's afraid they'll come after her, the joint accounts (her half or all of it?) or the house if I pass away with a lot of medical debt (we have health insurance so unlikely to be a ton, but still...).

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
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    1,732

    Default Re: Widow Responsible for Medical Debt if I Die

    I suggest reading some of these search results.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2018
    Posts
    14

    Default Re: Widow Responsible for Medical Debt if I Die

    Thanks pg1067, I had already read through some of those. What's not clear is whether they could force the sale of the home since it's tenants in common? My will says my share is left to my kids. More likely an easier approach would be taken such as selling my car and other physical possessions. I have 401k and other accounts that leave the money to my kids as beneficiaries. My wife has her own accounts (2nd marriage). Would those be attached to pay any medical debt? I don't imagine there could be much as we're pretty healthy and always carry health insurance, but she's just stressing about this and them coming after the house if I die with medical bills.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Posts
    19,246

    Default Re: Widow Responsible for Medical Debt if I Die

    I think you misunderstand. Tenancy in common is easier to break up than joint tenancy or tenancy by the entirety. Your will is meaningless unless you have assets over what your debts are.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Posts
    15,663

    Default Re: Widow Responsible for Medical Debt if I Die

    Quote Quoting Diver4242
    View Post
    Thanks pg1067, I had already read through some of those. What's not clear is whether they could force the sale of the home since it's tenants in common? My will says my share is left to my kids. More likely an easier approach would be taken such as selling my car and other physical possessions. I have 401k and other accounts that leave the money to my kids as beneficiaries. My wife has her own accounts (2nd marriage). Would those be attached to pay any medical debt? I don't imagine there could be much as we're pretty healthy and always carry health insurance, but she's just stressing about this and them coming after the house if I die with medical bills.
    Anything that has a beneficiary passes outside of your estate and is therefore not accessible to creditors. Anything solely in your wife's name cannot be levied for your debts. The "tenants in common" ownership of your house is more problematic. I am sure that you did it that way so that your children could inherit your half of the house, but it makes your share of any debts accessible to creditors because the house would be part of your estate.

    Of course, if you have minor medical bills then your wife simply paying them would make the matter moot.

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