My mother is on PA state assisted medicare. She was in the hospital for 10 days at the end. A lawyer is advising me to not start probate for two years to make the bills drop off because the estate is so small (8400 - frozen in Pennslyvania). But my mother always paid her bills. I estimate lawyer and court costs at around 3000 (Florida probate). We have held off buying the memorial (3500), She had a pre-paid funeral (9600) but even with the dividends (3500) she will owe 1200. There is a bequest of 1000. Pension payback, and ect. She lived 90 years in Pennslyvania, the last two years in Florida with a daughter, and died in Ohio visiting me. If it takes all her estate I am ok with that, but what do I do if it is more? The hospital costs are the big unknown. It has been a month and I have received no bills. The lawyer says I should at least wait until I have all the bills in.

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My father spent his last few days in the hospital. He owed very little money. We paid what he owed on his credit card from the family account. We probated his will as soon as we got the death certificate and switched his checking account to an estate account. Alabama has 6 months probate time where claims on the estate have to be made. If the claims are not made within that time, they could be denied.

It was much simpler for us because my mother was the beneficiary who would also pay any bill that might come in late. We didn't receive any other bills for my father, so things worked correctly.

We have received bills from a hospital sent out a year later for my mother. In this instance there was some insurance mix-up and the insurance company took back some money. The hospital then billed us for a couple of things that were owed after the insurance money was taken back. It can get confusing. :-(

As one who who is admist probate (TX) for my mom, here's my thoughts -
- if mom got SS or any other income (like a pension or annuity) paid to her monthly or qtrly when she was alive, it will get claw backed. For SS, it's done quickly (within 30 days); but for other sources it could be a cpuole of months. The $ to clawback needs to be there or it morphs into problems for the executor.

- I'd try to clearly find out by what timeframe probate needs to be open by for whatever state (PA, FL, OH???). Like for TX it's 4 years from DOD.

- all those bills you get, I'd suggest you keep a ledger on them. Once probate is opened & Letters Testamentary issued, the executor may need to send a certified letter to creditors that probate has been opened in whichever state & to whom claims to be sent to. If its a significant amount, I'd suggest you send it certified with the return registered receipt (as you have a signature with date coming back to you). The certified w/RRR runs under $ 8.00 from USPO.

-If your probate state does time barred system for claims (TX does), then unless they get claim in either to atty. or directly to probate court within the time frame the executor can choose to deny their claim.

As an aside on the above, when I went to the courthouse to file my executor costs claim against moms estate there were folks filing claims on the behalf of creditors and for amounts that were under $ 500. I was surprised that they would bother but the guy ahead of me in line had a stack of claims for cellular & utility companies and he was not a paralegal but a freelancer for debt collections firms & did it in person as it gets date-stamped & entered in real time for probate court if it's done in person & in cash & he gets paid by the # of receipts he turns in (scans to collection company) & he did 3 counties. A sweet gig. My point is the debt may not drop off as collections may go and file a claim.

- I'd also suggest you clearly find out IF medical debts of their last illness is considered a priority claim by the probate state; and if it's limited to a set amount of $. For me, TX has this but it's limited to a set amount and period of time. Btw the room & boards costs paid by medicaid (like at a NH) usually cannot be considered a medical debt as its a custodial cost not medical.

- also I'd try to find out if the 3k estimate for probate is accurate. if mom has things that involve other states, I'd bet the executor will need to deal with "foreign will" filings. Foreign meaning another state. There usually is some sort of release of jurisdiction needed. Your atty may not be able to do this and you need an atty in the foreign will state to do the whatever's. More $$. Often for contiguous states there will be atty who do this routinely (like TX/LA or TX/NM) as it involves ranches or oils&gas stuff (so its just land in another state but they don't have that state as their legal residence), but you have OH, FL & PA. It could add up and your moms estate really doesn't have any $$ assets realistically.

? For you? Did mom make you beneficiary of life insurance &/ or POD on a bank account? So you have that $ to pay to start to do things? Or is all costs totally on you to pay and you only get $ once all aspects of probate are done? So if the costs go past 10k, you are good on paying & paying and never being reinbursed? Often even though there is a valid will, if they died with very little assets & family just walks on probate & let the assets escheat to the state. It eventually goes to unclaimed unit of state treasury & eventually state publishes a list of unclaimed & beyond the statute of limitations and someone in the family goes to file for it. My state - Louisiana - has done this recently as we finally have a state treasurer who is consumer friendly; a lot of this was $ related to abandoned accounts or insurance payments never cashed from hurricane Katrina (2005); the crowd at Lakeside mall where it was done for New Orleans was beyond huge and checks were being cut to those that had death certificates and could show heirship.

Really try to find out what all the costs could morph into as 10k isn't that much $ if things get involved. Good luck!

Pam is right, it can take like up to a year. If not more. Just this week I received a Medicare Summary for my Mom and this summary had to do with hospital care and doctors from July of last year. The other day I had a bill from the hospital for when my Mom was there in October.

They can take awhile, like up to a year. Bad news I know..

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