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Nursing home can’t collect from estate under doctrine of necessaries

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A Connersville nursing home can’t seek to collect on expenses for a patient after her death from the estate of her husband under the doctrine of necessaries, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled, because the facility didn’t first seek to collect from the patient.

Marianne Combs, a Medicaid patient, lived at Hickory Creek, where she was admitted by her daughter. Combs also accrued a private account balance of nearly $6,000. When she died, no estate was opened for Combs and the nursing home did not open a creditor’s estate in order to preserve its claim.

Instead, Hickory Creek filed a claim for the balance against Comb’s husband, and later his estate when he died, based on the doctrine of necessaries. The trial court denied the claim.

Under the doctrine, each spouse is primarily liable for his or her debts, but when unable to satisfy his or her own necessary expenses, the law will impose limited secondary liability upon the financially superior spouse. The doctrine arose from a time when married women were nearly completely dependent on their husbands, although as the years have gone on, the courts have found the doctrine applies in a gender-neutral manner.

Allowing a creditor to first pursue a non-contracting spouse erodes the concept of secondary liability, the appeals court noted. It rejected Hickory Creek’s claim that it determined that Combs had no assets, so it was justified in not opening an estate just “for the sake of preserving its claim.”

“Hickory Creek was first required to file a claim against Marianne to determine whether she was unable to satisfy her obligations. And because Marianne had passed away and no estate was opened for her, this meant that Hickory Creek, as a creditor, should have opened an estate for her, which it was permitted to do as an interested person. However, Hickory Creek did not do so. And now, it cannot do so because the time has passed,” Judge Nancy Vaidik wrote in Hickory Creek at Connersville v. Estate of Otto K. Combs, 21A04-1211-ES-600.

 

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  1. A sad end to a prolific gadfly. Indiana has suffered a great loss in the journalistic realm.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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