Billing the deceased

How to handle a large outstanding bill from a deceased patient.

Q: What can I do with a large outstanding balance left by a deceased patient?

A: The only option is to immediately bill the estate and hope that this obligation is settled along with the other outstanding obligations following the demise of the patient. If there is health insurance, of course, then that should be billed, and the billing office also should make an attempt to contact the executor of the estate to determine who might be closing out the deceased party's financial matters.

Answers to readers' questions were provided by Susan Childs, Evolution Healthcare Consulting, Rougemont, North Carolina; A. Michael La Penna, The La Penna Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan; and Barry B. Cepelewicz, MD, JD, Meiselman, Denlea, Packman, Carton & Eberz, White Plains, New York. Send your practice management questions to