My existing bills after I die

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My existing bills after I die

How can my wife and children not be burdened with my bills after I die
without life insurance

Asked on December 30, 2017 under Estate Planning, Tennessee

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

They become debts of your "estate"--the assets and property you leave behind--but not of your wife and child personally. Debts do not transfer from one person to another. Being debts of the estate means  that creditors can try to take or reach any assets (money, real estate) you leave behind, so they can potentially get the assets your family would otherwise inherit. However, if the bills or debts are greater than you assets or estate, the creditors cannot force your wife or children to pay out of their own money or enter into payment plans; all the creditors can get, at most, is what you are leaving to your family.
(Exceptions: if you wife co-signed or guaranteed any bills or obligations, she is liable for them; and she may be liable for certain of your final medical expenses, since spouses have an obligation to take care of--and pay for the care of--each other in this regard.) 
If possible, get life insurance, even if only a small policy to handle your final bills or costs.
 


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