After a Parent’s Death: Paying Bills

Four months after Mother died her bills have continued to arrive. While we were prepared to pay her final utility bills as well as the end-of-life and memorial service costs, it felt a bit strange to receive so many others, and doubly so more than four months after her death. Yet all of the bills were legitimate.

Here’s what we received:

  • Mother’s medical bills during her last few months of life were filed with Medicare via hospice, a Medicare requirement once a person becomes a part of a hospice program. More than once we have received a bill that Medicare rejected. It turned out that the provider had submitted the claim directly to Medicare instead of sending it to hospice. Now that we have had the provider forward the bill to hospice (who forwarded it to Medicare), we think that the problem is solved.
  • Our town’s ambulance took Mother to the hospital in September. She died in January. In March we received a bill.
  • We received a bill from Mother’s assisted living community for the month after her death. At first this seemed strange, but on reflection it was appropriate. The contract we signed with assisted living required that 30 days notice be given before vacating the apartment in order to give the staff time to find another occupant. It was hard to write that check; however, we realized that the assisted living community had planned for her apartment to be occupied that month.
  • A steady stream of confirmations for physical therapy came from Medicare. Some of these were services that we knew about and others were for activities that we did not know about. We wish we had monitored this medical care more carefully
  • Though Mother lived less than a week into 2010, tax returns for that year will need to be filed.

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