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RayAnswers, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
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Experience:  Texas lawyer for 30 years in Estate law
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My husband and I have kept separate bank account all our marriage

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My husband and I have kept separate bank account all our marriage .. If one of us dies is the other responsible for their credit card debt and bills?

Thanks for your question and good afternoon.

First off, New Jersey is not a community property state and you can't be held liable pursuant to the community property laws fro credit cards and other accounts solely in the other person's name.

The only exception is when there are medical bills Under the "doctrine of necessaries" which can make one spouse responsible for the other spouse's debts. In recent years this doctrine has been applied mainly to medical debts & some states have even abolished the doctrine.

However, this is what the New Jersey Supreme Court had to say about the doctrine: The court recognized marriage as a "shared enterprise and a joint undertaking" that is "akin to a partnership." As a result, the court held that a creditor who provides necessaries to one spouse can assume that the financial resources of both spouses may be used for payment; however, one spouse may only become liable for the debt when the resources of the other spouse who incurred the debt are insufficient.

So here any credit cards or other credit accounts the answer is no.If spouse has medical bills then a court might hold you liable under the doctrine of necessaries.As long as it is not say a medical or doctor bill only their estate is liable for such debts.


You have the right idea to the degree possible to keep your accounts here including credit and banking separate as to minimalize your liability.

I appreciate the chance to assist you today.Please let me know if you have more follow up.Thanks again.



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This communication does not establish an attorney-client relationship.Information provided here is not legal advice. Rather it is simply general information.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Will I have difficulty accessing his or he my bank accounts. Also .. What about the house ... I'm on the deed not the mortgage. What purpose does that serve?
The other spouse would have to open probate--file your will and be named personal representative.As long as you have a will this should not be anything more than a temporary problem until the probate court hears the application and issues letters testamentary to the other spouse..

Here with the house if you are on the deed you may be considered the owner.If you want the husband to have inheritance rights you would will it to him.He would transfer the mortgage to his name as part of probate.

As long as you have wills here there should not be any problem and only the person's estate is liable for any separate credit cards or other debts.In the event you decease and the house note is in his name then you have option whether to assume it or not.If it was say underwater it would be possible to let it go back.

Thanks for letting me help.Let me know if you have more.It is never a problem.
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