Download the Georgia Probate Handbook.

Learn Important Probate Essentials, including key things that go wrong in an estate, how to prevent them, and what to do if they happen.

    Does Georgia Probate Law Say That You Must Pay The Hospital Bills Of a Spouse That Dies?

    logos-image logos-image logos-image
    The Hospital Bills Of a Spouse

    What happens if you have a spouse that dies in the hospital? Does Georgia probate law say that you are responsible for the bills?

    This is a common question our office receives, and is often a concern on the minds of family members. The short answer is that, generally speaking, Georgia probate law states that only the estate of the deceased is responsible for the deceased’s bills – the surviving spouse is not personally responsible.

    Even though this is the general rule, there are exceptions, and there are other ways that the surviving spouse can be affected by the bills, so it is something to be taken very seriously.

    First, the exceptions. The single largest way that a surviving spouse can be responsible for the hospital bills is if he or she signed something while at the hospital accepting responsibility for them. Many times, family members do not even pay attention to what they signed when their loved one was admitted to the hospital, so they often do not know whether they agreed to pay the debt. As a result, if you signed anything while you were at the hospital, it is worth investigating to know for sure whether you are responsible.

    If you did sign something accepting responsibility for the bills, then the hospital can pursue you personally to collect it in the same way as if you were the patient. Luckily, this is not that common.

    A far more common way that the family is affected by the hospital bills has to do with the estate itself and the way property is held. Once someone dies, all of their property, other than joint or beneficiary designated accounts, becomes available to creditors through the probate process to pay debts owed by the deceased.

    Related Topic:  What are Letters of Administration?

    As a result, if the family home was owned by the deceased and the surviving spouse was not a joint owner, then the hospital and other creditors can force it to be sold to pay their debts. The same applies to bank accounts, vehicles, investment accounts, and any other property that goes into the estate.

    If you find yourself in this position, then there are ways to make it better. While creditors may not respond if you try to negotiate on your own, they often are willing to reduce the amount owed a lot more when you have a competent probate attorney working for you.

    In addition, Georgia probate law provides surviving spouses a spousal support option called year’s support that places the surviving spouse in a higher priority position than the creditors, so the spouse gets paid first. Year’s support is a complicated proceeding and you only get one shot to get it right, so I strongly recommend hiring a qualified probate law firm to assist you.

    Whether you are personally liable for the debt or are in danger of losing the family home or options property, Georgia probate law provides options to the surviving spouse.

    We recommend speaking with our experienced probate team to determine the best way to proceed.

    Disclaimer: The information above is provided for general information only and should not be considered legal advice. Our probate attorneys provide legal advice to our clients after talking about the specific circumstances of the client’s situation. Our law firm cannot give you legal advice unless we understand your situation by talking with you. Please contact our law office to receive specific information about your situation.


    What is ancillary probate?  How do you know if it applies to your situation?  We will answer those questions and more in this post. My name is Erik Broel & I am the founder & CEO of Georgia Probate Law Group. At our firm, we help families who have lost a loved one navigate the complex a...

    What can you do when a family member begins to take control of an estate?  There are several options, and we will review some important ones in this post. My name is Erik Broel & I am the founder & CEO of Georgia Probate Law Group. At our firm, we help families who have lost a loved one ...

    What are the inheritance rights of spouses in Georgia?  Does the surviving spouse automatically inherit everything?  For that matter, does the surviving spouse even need to open probate?  We will answer those questions and more in this post. My name is Erik Broel & I am the founder & C...

    © 2022 Georgia Probate Law Group by Broel Law, LLC. All rights reserved.