After death, a person's unpaid medical bills are the responsibility of the person's insurance company and the estate, according to Debt.org. Once a person dies, all of the assets associated with that person, including any house, car, life insurance and other monies, pass into an estate. The estate is typically handled by an executor named in the deceased's will.
Once the will goes through probate and the insurance company has paid as much of the medical bills as it covers, the executor of the estate is responsible for paying the remaining medical bills out of the estate monies. The bills left behind after death are paid in an order dictated by the person's state of residence, according to America Now News. The first bills paid are often taxes, followed closely behind by medical bills. In most cases, the relatives of the deceased are not responsible for unpaid medical bills. The Washington Post notes that in some cases and in certain states, the hospital may legally see the spouse or children of the deceased as beneficiary of the medical care and can hold them responsible for unpaid medical bills. Debt.org warns against accepting money from a family member's estate before all of the medical and other bills have been settled. If the estate is liquidated and distributed before the bills are fully paid, hospitals and other agencies can collect from family members up to the amount of the inheritance.