Am I respondsible for my late husbands credit card debts?

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Am I respondsible for my late husbands credit card debts?

My husand passed away in June and he has 2 cards that have been harrassing me to pay them off. I was not a authorized user, nor was any of my info used to obtain the cards. Am I responsible?

Asked on August 26, 2010 under Bankruptcy Law, Illinois

Answers:

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

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Generally, one spouse is not obligated to pay the bills of the other spouse. However, there are several exceptions to this rule. If you live in a community property state, you would typically bear responsibility for such a debt (IL is not such a state). The second exception would be if you signed or in some other way agreed to be legally bound for re-payments on the debt (this is true no matter what state that you live in). The last exception falls under something called the "doctrine of necessities". While many states no longer follow it, some states have actually made it statutory law. Under the doctrine, one spouse is liable for the "necessary" expenses incurred by the other spouse during marriage. This holds true for any debt but particularly for medical bills which are deemed to almost always be “necessary”.

Also, in the case of a deceased spouse, even in a situation that did not fall into one of the above exceptions, the deceased’s estate would still be liable for repayment; therefore, indirectly as surviving spouse could be affected financially.


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