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Barrister
Barrister, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 37040
Experience:  16 yrs estate law, real estate. Wills/Trusts/Probate
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My father passed away on fathers day 2014. My sister who was

Customer Question

My father passed away on fathers day 2014. My sister who was his executor has received some medical bills from a hospital from almost 2 years ago and some physicians not sure from what time. equalling around $20,000 all together. My father was 91 he had Medicare and the State of Oklahoma retiree benefits insurance for health. Most all of his bills when he was alive, and they included hospital bills, were paid pretty much in full with only around $300 that he was responsible for. My sister is being threatened with lawsuit if she did not pay. Is this legal since he is dead and as I have said most of his medical is generally covered by his medicare and state supplemental insurance/ He did not have an estate per se. He did have some life insurances that totalled 10,00- to help pay for his burial. He rented his home. He had a car that was 10 years old. No stocks or Bonds. He had around $30,000 in his checking. Is my sister responsible for these bills?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome! My name is ***** ***** I will try my level best to help with your situation or get you to someone who can.

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Did sister file a formal probate case in court to settle father's estate where she was appointed executrix by the probate court judge?

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If so, did she administer the estate and settle it and then formally close it down with the probate court judge signing off on the estate being closed?

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
No she did not do anything along those at all. The only people who were listed as beneficiaries were all of my siblings. We received our monies from the insurance companies and then sent them on to her.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
My sister paid for his burial out of the insurance monies and the hospital bill from his 3 day stay before he died and the nursing home had settled the couple of months with medicare. so there was not any outstanding debt. My sister and he were renting the house they were in.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

Ok, from a purely legal perspective, if she never filed a formal probate case to settle the estate and was named by a probate court judge to the position of executrix, then she has no legal duty to do anything at all.

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She could simply walk away and do nothing and there is nothing anyone can do to her. Assuming the role of executor/trix is entirely voluntary and that person bears no personal liability at all for the estate debts until they actually do so.

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So if she never filed any formal probate case, the creditors of father's estate couldn't legally do anything to force her or anyone else to pay. They could only "force open" a probate case at their own expense and then try to get paid from any assets in the estate.

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If she paid them anything out of her personal money, then I am afraid that she was just bluffed into doing so and there is unfortunately nothing she could do about it now since this would be deemed a voluntary payment she made since there was no legal order or obligation to do so.

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I am very sorry that I don’t have better news, but please understand that I have an ethical and professional obligation to provide customers with legally correct answers based on my knowledge and experience, even when I know the answer doesn’t make the customer happy...

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
since my sister is disabled and only has her social security to live on and this has left her with less than 10,000 in her account she is basically out of luck now with no other options?
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

I really hate to say it, but yes. She wouldn't be able to force the creditor to refund the money that they basically bluffed her into paying. I really wish she had talked to an attorney or found the JustAnswer website as she could have been informed that she had no legal duty to pay father's debts before she paid them.

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I am sorry that the news isn't better.

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thanks

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
I understand. I wish she had talked to me before she had done anything as well. I thank you for your time. I just hate the fact that these are the same physicians that she had sent documents for them to sign and write a diagnosis on so she could collect for the time he was in the hospital since he had insurance for hospital tays to help pay bills but they never followed through after her sending 23 times and even sending them a stamped addressed envelop for it.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

About the only possible thing I could suggest is for her to contact father's insurance to see if there is any chance that those charges would have been covered and would reimburse her for essentially "prepaying" them. But they might not be willing to talk to her about it since she is not legally his executor until she files a formal probate case to be appointed by a judge.

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If you feel your original question and any related follow ups have been answered, I would very much appreciate a positive rating on the answer I have provided so I receive credit for my work. If you have a new question the JustAnswer folks require that you start a new question page, but you can request me by putting "For Barrister" in the caption and they will get it to me.

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thanks much

Barrister

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK thank you.
Expert:  Barrister replied 1 year ago.

You are very welcome. If she can get someone to talk to her from father's insurers, and if they say that they would have covered the bills, then it would be worth her filing a formal probate case to pursue this because they could then reimburse her for the payments under his policy coverage.

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thanks

Barrister

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