Am I Responsible for My Deceased Spouse’s Pre-marriage Debts?
Published On: February 3, 2015
Warning: Laws governing situations differ state to state. Make sure to talk to an experienced attorney about your unique circumstances.
NOTE: This is not intended to be legal advice.
This area of law turns on specific facts and applicable state law(s).
It is almost impossible to give a single answer for what you may think is a simple question. First, the law of the state where you live or lived may control. Second, a prior marriage or debts taken out before the current marriage may affect the answer.
With these warning here are some basics (but you MUST talk to an experience attorney):
The fact that the widow may have used the card during the marriage does not necessarily make her liable for the debt.
The debt may be charged against the community property of the spouses, but the creditor has a deadline to sue or file a claim in the decedent’s probate case.
If the debt was incurred by the deceased in an earlier marriage was in a community property state, such as Arizona, the ex-wife may be obligated to pay the debt.
Again, all of this is very fact specific, but here is some basic Arizona law:
Arizona has a claims bar date of 2 years post-death to file a claim against the estate or sue for a debt accrued by a decedent during his lifetime (” statute of repose”). A.R.S. § 14-3803(A)(1).
It is important you educate yourself whenever you have questions. Never assume advice you find on the Internet or friends fits your unique situation. If you need legal or medical advice it is important to remember that doctors and lawyers spend years learning answers to your questions. That learning never stops because of changes in law or medicine.
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