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Just to clarify what I meant, no, don't call the collections agency! Call the NH - or that's what I'd do, anyway. And if the NH can't identify the debt I'd probably then ignore it.
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Each state has its own statute of limitations.
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I agree with what GardenArtist said above about following the rules outlined in the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act to challenge a claimed debt. I also think it's worthwhile to check your state's statute of limitations and filial responsibility laws.
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Julia, I did a quick check on the statute of limitations for debt collection. It varies by state. Your state isn't listed in your profile, so I can't check that, but do google "debt collection statute of limitations."

What boggles my mind is that a nursing home would just now be attempting to collect a debt, after 5 years. Somebody's bookkeeping needs to be updated! Or maybe the facility changed hands and somebody's going over the books with a "fine toothed comb".
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BTW, I had forgotten about RainMom's excellent suggestion in this thread:

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/what-to-do-collection-agency-calls-for-deceased-mother-202928.htm

I think I'll try that, just for laughs, if I ever get any real live person solicitation calls. Most of them are robo calls so saying anything to them is fruitless.
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Send, sometime ago I did some research on the seedy debt collection industry, including the reselling of uncollected debt. There are a few tiers of collection levels, resulting in an initial debt collector giving up and selling the debt to another collector. (Just when you thought it was safe to open the mail...!)

Sometimes there's quite an extensive time period between the first and second collectors coming after someone.

I think there's a statute of limitations on debt collection but don't remember what it is w/o checking the FDCPA.

I'm glad your research paid off and it was just a delay in reimbursement. I've experienced something like that a few times, or especially when someone codes improperly and the bill is rejected, and must be rebilled with the proper codes.

And then there's Medicare, with its convoluted and unfathomable reasons for rejecting legitimate procedures.

That's one job I don't think I could handle - all that Medicare coding is so specific, and sometimes barely understandable.
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JuliaLibrary,
Do you think the bill is valid?
Or covered by insurance?
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Excellent answer, GA,
And have read the referenced post, also good answers there!

It is a peeve of mine when someone like the nursing home billing makes such an error, failing to follow up with the facts, then drops this puzzle on unsuspecting persons, forcing them to research what they could have done prior if they were doing their job right!
I recently received a bill, called them up, and they said, what bill, how did you get that bill? It turned out the insurance had not yet paid when reception gave dH a receipt for his co-pay by copying the ledger. Nerves get raw. But we didn't owe anything.
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Not to contradict anyone else's advice, but you ABSOLUTELY must follow the Fair Debt Collections Practices Act. It establishes a variety of actions for responding to debts, including doing so in writing.

Google Fair Debt Collections Practices Act, and read the Act, but you can also check this post as a similar situation occurred to another poster. It's somewhat different, but the underlying issue is that you must follow the FDCPA requirements to challenge the debt. Ignoring it is the worst thing you could do.

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/collections-notice-nursing-facility-when-covered-by-medicare-is-this-a-scam-432083.htm

A slightly different situation is also addressed here:

https://www.agingcare.com/questions/what-to-do-collection-agency-calls-for-deceased-mother-202928.htm

In your written challenge, ask for a copy of the (alleged) judgment even if none is mentioned. Also ask for validation of the debt, as well as the questions CM suggests in her last paragraph. However, and much as I respect CM's advice, you do not call the agency.

Calls are recorded, and I've found in my experience that the recordings are altered. Years ago a debt collector I challenged clearly recorded the conversation but deleted some portions.

If you have trouble interpreting the FDCPA, just post back here.

If you fail to follow it specifically though and respond in writing within 30 days of receipt of the notice, denying validity of the debt, that's interpreted as acknowledgment of the debt's validity.
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Is this the very first you've heard of it? - that there was any outstanding account with this nursing home?

I'd give them a call and ask for an explanation. Do not say anything that implies that you agree that any money is due, or not unless it's an incredibly good explanation - and even then that doesn't mean you're liable. Tread carefully.
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You'll probably get another invoice. Don't open it.
Mark "Return to Sender - Deceased 2009" and drop it in a mailbox
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On the radio...attorney Bill Handel advises: Do not confirm the debt.

You say this is from the nursing home?
Not sure this will be helpful in your case, but I often receive bills (for labs or unknown doctors) for my husband.  I forward copies of his insurance cards along with their bill, and never hear from them again.
In your case, it would depend upon the NH arrangements with your mother's care, and if you helped with her fees there.  Do you think payment was over-looked?

Sorry this is popping back up in your life after losing your mother.
I would have a difficult time paying a bill for anyone deceased, let alone 5 years later.

Let them write it off, do not confirm the bill, I think they are too late.
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I'd suggest checking with a lawyer. Generally you're not liable unless you sign a guarantee of the payments. But there are states that allow creditors to collect from adult children under filial responsibility laws.There's also a statute of limitations for every claim - 5 years may be too late even if your state does have filial responsibility laws.

Bottom line, you need to see a lawyer. You don't want this mucking up your credit report, or be dealing with collection agencies.
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It is not illegal to try to collect a bill from anyone. No doubt, it is a collection agency or even a scam. Do not tell them anything other that to stop the harassment or you will report them to the Federal Communications Corporation. Hopefully you did not sign papers as anything other than POA on mom's behalf when she was admitted.
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