Do I have to pay my deceased husband’s credit card bills?

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Do I have to pay my deceased husband’s credit card bills?

Asked on July 4, 2015 under Estate Planning, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

Generally speaking, a surviving spouse is not obligated to pay the bills of a deceased spouse. However, there are exceptions. The first has to do with the state in which you live. In community property states, you would typically bear responsibility for such a debt. The second exception has to do with whether or not you signed or in some way agreed to be legally bound for repayments on the debt. The finl exception falls under something called the "doctrine of necessities". According to the doctrine, one spouse is liable for the "necessary" expenses incurred by the other spouse during their marriage. therefore, depending on the items charged on the card (i.e. were they necessary expenses for the maintenance of the household or medical bills), a you could bear liability for such debts.

At this point, you should consult directly with an attorney in your area.

Note: if you are not liable for your husband's credit card debt, his estate would still be liable for repayment. Therefore, indirectly you could be affected financially.


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