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Q&A: "I'm Executor of my Mother's Estate. She Left No Estate and Died Two Years Ago. Am I Responsible for Her Medical Bills?"

Estate Matters

Question and background: 

I'm executor of my mother's estate. She left no estate and died 2 years ago. A bill collector contacted regarding an unpaid medical bill. They are asking me for payment. I was told there is a statute of limitations for collection of medical debt. Can I be sued for payment? Does a statute of limitations exist in NY? How should I deal with this debt collector? I initially offered to provide them a copy of her death certificate, but they declined.

Answer: 

As long as you didn't personally sign that you'd be responsible for your mother's medical bill, the bill collector should have nothing on you.

The medical debt is an obligation of your mother's estate and you indicated that she left no estate. No assets = no ability to pay. The collector will have to write-off the outstanding balance. Assuming there'll be no assets coming into your mother's estate on a delayed basis, then any statute of limitations wouldn't be relevant.

An exception to this might be if your mother's estate did have assets but you paid those out to beneficiaries before taking care of her bills. (I assume this is not the case.) Then the collectors may have recourse against you for improperly carrying out your duties as executor. 

View this as general information. There may be nuances or additional details that you didn't share in your question that could change the picture. If so, you'll probably want to discuss matters with an estate attorney who's licensed to practice in New York.

Hope that helps.