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Deceased patient-refunds

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I work for a Medical billing company and we have been receiving checks that are creating a credit balance. When we went to refund it turns out that the patient is now deceased and has no next of kin. Where does this money need to be refunded to?

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How would you know this person has no next of kin? You say "have been receiving", so that indicates it's an ongoing issue (vs. the now-deceased patient overpaying you). From where are you receiving these funds? Is it on an auto-pay from the deceased's bank or something?

Technically speaking, unclaimed monies should be send to the state, assuming you've sent a refund check to the deceased care of his-her last known address and it's been returned.

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I assume this relates to the post on the "small business" board on a similar subject. Again, I suggest that, if your company does not have a policy about this, it consult with counsel for advice.

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Another question on patient credits.

If our practice refunds a deceased patient that does not have an estate, can the refund be reissued directly to their spouse or family member? (Family member is unable to deposit this payment at their local bank).

In our state we report all unclaimed property after 3 years, but in many cases we know of the family members. Often it was the family member that created the original payment.

Are we compelled to hold these payments for the 3 year dormancy period, send the funds to the state, then have the family obtain it from the state?

 

It seems unnecessary to me to bypass the known spouse and compel them to wait 3 years to obtain the refund.

 

Thank you,

Eileen

 

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Presumably you can issue a payment to whoever you want to, but I'd think you're accepting unnecessary and avoidable risk by sending the payment to anyone other than the deceased patient at the last address you have for him/her.

 

if there is a will, then the will should, generally, define who is entitled to those funds, which might not be the spouse or family member that you're aware of.

if there is no will, then the intestacy rules of the relevant state define who is entitled to the property of the deceased and, again, depending on the particular circumstances, the spouse or family member that you're aware of might not be the right recipient.  

And whether or not there's a will, there may be creditors of the deceased who are entitled to be paid before the deceased's funds get distributed to anyone.

 

The point being that in all those circumstances, you might end up having to pay the amount twice -- once to the spouse/family member that you decided to send it to, and once to someone else who really was entitled to it under the circumstances.

 

 

 

 

 

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10 minutes ago, adjusterjack said:

The safest thing to do is make the check out to "The Estate of Name of Dead Person."

 

And send it to a family member.

 

Then you are done with it.

 

 

Actually, the medical practice is not done with it if the check is not cashed.  That is the problem.  Eventually the practice would have to turn the unclaimed funds over to an escheat authority.  In the meantime they would be required to keep a record of the patient and the balance owed to the patient's estate.  It can be a real pain in the buttocks.

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