Dealing with Debt

questions & answers

Question: Hello: My mother died recenty. As her son am I obligated to pay her outstand bills? The day she passed a bill arrived from the emergency service that took to the hospital. Also she received a bill for medical expenses from her stay in the critical care unit at the hospital where she died. There are other bills that have been received. I just need to know if legally these have to be paid. Thank you for your help. Rick

Answer: When a person dies, the debts owed by that person are not automatically erased.  In many cases, the creditor (person to whom the debt is owed) may bring a claim against the deceased person’s estate.  A.R.S. 14-3104 http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/03104.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS .  The estate is the combination of everything that the deceased person owned at the time of his or her death, such as a house, a car, furniture, bank accounts, etc.  Creditors are entitled to bring claims against the estate to settle any outstanding debts.  In some cases, creditors may enforce repayment from the deceased person’s heirs if the estate has been distributed to those heirs.  A.R.S. 14-3934 http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/03934.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS .  For example, a creditor might be able to recover payment from a deceased person’s son if the son has already received his share of the estate.  However, there are limitations on this sort of recovery.  A creditor cannot enforce payment by an heir beyond what the heir received as an inheritance.  A.R.S. 14-3934 http://www.azleg.gov/FormatDocument.asp?inDoc=/ars/14/03934.htm&Title=14&DocType=ARS .  There are also numerous limitations and rules regarding the amount of time a creditor has to make a claim, what kind of claims can be made, how the claims are to be made, and whether the claims will be allowed.  The statutes governing these rules are A.R.S. 14-3801 through 14-3816 and can be found here http://www.azleg.gov/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp?Title=14 .
Because everyone’s circumstances are different and this area of law is complex, it is best to consult a licensed attorney with experience in probate law in order to understand what must be done with any particular estate. 

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QUESTIONS

  • Hello: My mother died recenty. As her son am I obligated to pay her outstand bills? The day she passed a bill arrived from the emergency service that took to the hospital. Also she received a bill for medical expenses from her stay in the critical care unit at the hospital where she died. There are other bills that have been received. I just need to know if legally these have to be paid. Thank you for your help. Rick

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