How to Collect Debt From Deceased Patients

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Only the estate and the surviving spouse are liable for a deceased patient's debts.
Only the estate and the surviving spouse are liable for a deceased patient's debts. (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

Debt collection practices are strictly regulated by federal, state and local laws. Medical debt is one of the most often unpaid debts even in the best of circumstances. Medical bills may add up to hundreds of thousands of dollars. If the patient has no insurance, the owner of the debt will have to try to collect the money from the patient. But, if the patient dies, payment of that debt rests with the administrator of the estate or a surviving spouse.

Things You'll Need

  • Phone
  • Patient records
  • Computer with printer

Call the contact numbers left by the patient. Gather as much information as possible about the estate and its ability to pay. Learn as much as you can about the financial means of the surviving spouse if the estate can not pay. Record the important points of your phone conversations by typing them into your computer.

Contact the number for the next of kin listed in the patient's records. Try to obtain as much information as possible about the estate and the surviving spouse to determine who is able to pay the debt. Record the main points of these conversations into your computer.

Draft, print and send the bill to the administrator of the patient's estate and surviving spouse. Wait for 30 days for a response and contact them again by mail.

Determine from phone calls and mail correspondence who the responsible party is and send them a notice monthly for 180 days. Call the responsible party 10 days after every bill that you mail and attempt to collect the debt by phone.

Obtain judgments from your local civil court for the full amount of the debt if you have decided that the estate or surviving spouse is able, but unwilling, to pay the bill. Write off debts from estates that are unable to pay or sell them to a collection agency.

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