Grieving the loss of a spouse is emotionally challenging, and dealing with financial matters can be overwhelming. However, it i important to take a moment to understand your rights and responsibilities concerning the debts of a spouse. In this article, we will seek to clarifty which obligations may be the responsibility of the surviving spouse and those that will not.
Obligations That are NOT the Responsibility of the Surviving Spouse
Generally, the surviving spouse is not personally responsible for paying off the deceased spouse’s individual debts. These obligations, including credit card debt, student loans, car loans, mortgages, and business loans, are typically paid off by the deceased spouse’s estate.
When a spouse dies with outstanding debts, the deceased’s estate becomes liable for these debts. The personal representative, executor, or administrator is responsible for settling these debts using the estate’s funds. Importantly, the surviving spouse’s savings are not used for this purpose.
Obligations That are the Responsibility of the Surviving Spouse
There will be some obligations, however, for which the surviving spouse is responsible. In Texas, a community property state, both spouses are equally liable for debts incurred during the marriage, even if the debt is not in the surviving spouse’s name. This means that the surviving spouse may be responsible for the deceased spouse’s obligations if they were incurred after the marriage took place.
Moreover, if the surviving spouse is a joint account holder on a credit card or has co-signed a loan, they will obligated to continue paying the debt.
Additionally, Texas law mandates that a surviving spouse may be responsible for paying the deceased spouse’s medical bills incurred before their death.
Navigating Debt Collection
It is crucial to familiarize yourself with Texas laws to understand your liability concerning your deceased spouse’s debts. If a debt collector claims you are responsible for an account balance and you believe you are not, request evidence of your liability.
Understanding your rights and the laws governing debts in Texas can help you navigate this challenging period and ensure you do not pay more than you are legally obligated to. If you are uncertain about your responsibility for your spouse’s debts, it is advisable to consult with an experienced estate planning or elder law attorney to understand in what situations you are obligated to pay and when you’re not.