Is a wife liable for her deceased husband’s credit card bills?

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Is a wife liable for her deceased husband’s credit card bills?

Asked on August 23, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Florida

Answers:

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

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, a spouse is not obligated to pay the bills of their deceased spouse. However, there are several exceptions to this rule. The first is if the couple lived in a community property state, then a spouse would typically bear responsibility for such a debt (you do not). The second exception would be if the spouse signed or in some other way agreed to be legally bound for re-payments on the debt (you did not indicate that to be the case). The last exception falls under something called the "doctrine of necessities" wherein one spouse is liable for the "necessary" expenses incurred by the other spouse during marriage (such as medical bills but not credit card bills).

Bottom line, it would appear based on the facts that you bear no responsibility for your late husband's debts. That having been said however, the estate is liable for payment to the extent that is has assets to cover them. If the estate does not have enough assets to make repayment then the bills will either be extinguished as a matter of law (i.e. the creditors can no longer collect on the debt).


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