Who is responsible for paying for my husband's medical bill?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

I have been living with my 'husband' (not legally married)for 26 years.Recently he had major emergency surgery and they are planning on placing him in a rehab facility when he gets discharged from hospital..he has NO insurance (the hospital applied for medical assistance for him). My question is :who will be responsible for all these bills including the nursing home ?

Expert Answers

Judy and Fred co-mediate family property and financial conflicts, and each work individually as mediators as well. Judy Barber, a mediator and family business consultant, assists clients in resolving overlapping family and money conflicts so they are better able to make sound estate planning decisions. Frederick Hertz is an attorney and mediator who specializes in resolving co-ownership matters involving families, siblings, spouses, cohabitants and domestic partners.

First, I would encourage you to not use the term "husband" to refer to your partner. He is not your husband, and especially in this context, you don't want to lead anyone to think that you have a legal relationship with him. This is one time when not being married could be very beneficial to you financially, so don't cloud the issue by referring to him as your husband.

Second, in most states you will have no financial liability for these expenses, since you are not a legal relative. In about a dozen states, however, there is a concept called common law marriage, which allows a court to declare you married even without a legal ceremony. It is highly unlikely, however, for a creditor to pursue such a claim. Therefore, you should not have to worry about having to pay these bills.

If you are pursued for any reason, you should consult with a local attorney for specific advice about the laws of your state.

One thing you didn't mention is legal authority to make medical decisions for your partner. Because you are not married he should be signing valid medical powers of attorney, to authorize you to make medical decisions should his condition worsen.