Would a widow in Massachusetts be responsible for her husband’s debt?

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Would a widow in Massachusetts be responsible for her husband’s debt?

My partner just proposed to me, and I want to marry him. My concern is his
serious debt issues. He has cancer, and only a few years left, so I
anticipate becoming his widow. Would I be responsible for any of his debt?
He does have health insurance. Should something happen to his insurance,
and he accrues medical debt, would I be responsible for that upon his
death? Also, would his debt, while living, affect my credit if I were to
marry him? We live in Massachusetts. Thank you

Asked on May 9, 2018 under Family Law, Massachusetts

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) You are not responsible for any of his pre-marriage debts.
2) However, a spouse may be responsible for post-marriage debts which either a) she guaranted or agred to pay or b) were for essential medical care--the law requires spouses to take care of each other and not push the cost of medical care onto others. While you would not be responsible for most debts he personally incurred while married, you do have to contribute to his medical care.
3) His debts do not directly affect your credit while married, but for major transactions (buying real estate; renting an apartment; buying a car; etc.), they generally look at both spouses' credit (on the theory that if one of you has credit problems, that increases the likelihood of family financial difficulty), so his debts could indirectly cause you problems.


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