If my estranged husband dies before me, am I responsible for his funeral and debts?

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If my estranged husband dies before me, am I responsible for his funeral and debts?

My husband is ill. If he should die before me, am I responsible for his funeral expenses and other debts he may have? We have been separated (no legal papers involved) for over 7 years.

Asked on July 13, 2012 under Family Law, New Jersey

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Absent a couple living in a community property state, a spouse does not assume their deceased spouse's sole debts, unless of course they in some way agree to be. However, since you have been separated for over 7 years, I would assume that you did not so agree. Consequently, such debts would be paid by your estranged husband's estate.

The exception to the above, are medical bills and like expenses. In some states, these bills are deemed to be "necessities", and as long as a couple is still leagally married, one spouse my be able held liable for these type debts. 

At this point, you should contact an attorney and check to see exactly what the law in your state is.


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