Is a wife responsible for her deceased husband’s personal debt and medical bills?

My husband recently passed and has credit cards in just his name. He also has

medical bills. We own a home but it’s in both of our names.

Asked on August 20, 2018 under Estate Planning, New York


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

In NY, as a general rule, it is the deceased spouse's estate that is responsible for that spouse's medical expenses and credit card debt and not the surviving spouse. Exceptions to this would be if the surviving spouse agreed to be responsible for them or the services were provided based on the credit of the surviving spouse.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) Often, a spouse is responsible for his/her deceased spouse's medical bills: medical care is considered a "necessity" that a spouse is supposed to provide for her spouse, and she can be held responsible for those bills.
2) You would not be liable for credit card bills just in his name. However, while not personally responsible, the credit card companies could sue his estate and try to recover from the money and property he leaves behind to you.

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