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Home > Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts > My Husband Died With Debt in His Name. Do I Have to Pay It? – Teresa

My Husband Died With Debt in His Name. Do I Have to Pay It? – Teresa

“Dear Steve,

Married 25 yrs. & my husband always paid the bills, he died on 25 Apr.2010. I live in Ca., no life ins., he was unemployed for over 1 yr. Our house is almost in foreclousure, & I’m trying to catch up on the payments right now, so that I’m not out looking for an extra lg. cardboard box to call home. Needless to say I am not prepared to pay his credit card bills, that I just found out about. They were in his name only & I was not a signer on the acct. Am I responsible? As soon as I have the house payments current I plan on filing chapter 7.

This is a 2 part ? (1.) My husband died & he had credit cards ($23,000.) only in his name & I’m not listed as a signer. Am I required by Ca. law to pay them? (2) Right now I’ve got a garnishment on my paycheck from a debt collector who didn’t even bother serving me papers for court until the judgement was granted. I owed 3500.00 to orgin. creditor & G.C.F.S were granted 10,700.00 that I’m paying, they have collected 10,302.00. I contacted the sheriff & they said I still owe 2,500.00, How can that be? And is there a fast way to get them to stop now? I even have the irs billing me because he didn’t take taxes out of his unemployment.

Teresa”

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The Answer

Dear Teresa,

The issue here that complicates the situation is that you live in California, which is a community property state. It is my understanding that in California you may be held jointly liable for debt incurred by either partner during the marriage.

The bottom line here is you should not rely on what anyone has to say about this, including myself. Find a local attorney and ask them about the status of his debt. Community property states make a clear answer very muddy.

If it turns out you would be responsible for his debt, talk to your bankruptcy attorney about resolving it in the bankruptcy. And the sooner you file bankruptcy, the better. At least the bankruptcy would terminate the wage garnishment.

You can click here to find a local bankruptcy attorney if you don’t have one. You should not have to wait till your mortgage is current to do so.

Please update me on your progress by posting updates here in the comments section of your question. I’m very interested in how this works out for you.

Big Hug!

My Husband Died With Debt in His Name. Do I Have to Pay It?   Teresa
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About Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode
Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.
  • Steve Rhode

    It might be a bit of a process but it should end up just fine.

  • Sophie

    I will do that. Thank you very much. He didn’t had any asset. We had a house together on both names but I went foreclosure after he passed away. Is this means after I send the death certificate, that i don’t have to pay anything after that?
    Thank you again.

  • Steve Rhode

    Did he pass away with any assets in his estate in his name? Creditors can only look towards the estate for payment.

    I’d get a certified copy of the death certificate and send that to the student loan servicing company and let them know he passed. Send it by some traceable means so you can prove later that they got it.

  • Sophie

    Yes

  • Steve Rhode

    Was the student loan is his name alone?

  • Sophie

    My husband had student loan and he passed away 2 years ago. I live in Arizona and I don’t know what to do if I have to pay this loan or not. I don’t have the money to pay it.

  • Sophie

    My husband had student loan and he passed away 2 years ago. I live in Arizona and I don’t know what to do if I have to pay this loan or not. I don’t have the money to pay it. 

    • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

      Was the student loan is his name alone?

      • Sophie

        Yes

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        Did he pass away with any assets in his estate in his name? Creditors can only look towards the estate for payment.

        I’d get a certified copy of the death certificate and send that to the student loan servicing company and let them know he passed. Send it by some traceable means so you can prove later that they got it.

      • Sophie

        I will do that. Thank you very much. He didn’t had any asset. We had a house together on both names but I went foreclosure after he passed away. Is this means after I send the death certificate, that i don’t have to pay anything after that?
        Thank you again.  

      • http://GetOutOfDebt.org Steve Rhode

        It might be a bit of a process but it should end up just fine.

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