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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 111548
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
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My husband and I separated 2 years ago. He lived in Louisiana

Customer Question

My husband and I separated 2 years ago. He lived in Louisiana and I live in Texas. I filed for a divorce in Texas and sent the paperwork to him to sign. He said he would sign it but he died before he signed the paperwork. His medical bills were $400,000 of which Blue Cross paid 80%. Is there a way for me to avoid having to pay the other 20 percent ($80,000) since we were in the middle of a divorce and I live on Social Security disability and could not possible pay his medical bills. He did not own any assets so there was no estate established. What can I do to protect myself from this financial medical bill disaster? And especially not have it on my credit or a lien put on my house which is my separate property?
Submitted: 6 months ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your question. I look forward to working with you to provide you the information you are seeking for educational purposes only.
If he died prior to the divorce then you are still a surviving spouse and both Texas and Louisiana are community property states. If no legal separation was filed in court, you would need at least a "separate property agreement" in writing to avoid the liability for the debt as a marital debt.
If he has no assets you are going to have to open succession in the Louisiana court on his estate which is insolvent and seek to get the court to either extinguish the debt and declare you not responsible. Most times the attorney handling the succession will negotiate the debt away based on you being what is called "judgment proof" essentially because your house in Texas is protected under the homestead act and no garnishment of your SSDI or SS funds can occur.
So while he has no property, you still need to get the estate opened to deal with the massive debt because of the community property implications.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I don't know if this makes any difference, even though he lived in Louisiana with his sister, he had a Mississippi driver's license that he never changed. Does that make any difference?
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
Does it make any difference that he had a Mississippi driver's license? He lived with his sister in Louisiana during the week but lived in Mississippi on weekends and kept his Mississippi driver's license until the day he died. Could that possibly make him a resident of Mississippi? And if so, does that change the community property implications? Thanks in advance. P.S. I tried to give you a five star rating but for some reason, after several attempts to submit the rating, it did not work. I will try again. Looking forward to your response to my last question.
Customer: replied 6 months ago.
I forgot to add also that he paid rent for the place he had in Mississippi where he lived on weekends and just stayed with his sister in Louisiana during the week for company I guess, not sure why since he had a place in Mississippi and had a Mississippi driver's license. So I don't know if that makes him a resident of Louisiana or Mississippi because of the time he spent in both states. I guess it could be important in determining what if any difference it makes in community property implications. Please let me know. Thanks.
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 6 months ago.
Thank you for your reply. I apologize for not responding sooner, but for some unknown reason the question got locked and I could not enter it. I am sorry for whatever caused that to happen.
It does not make a difference regarding the community property, that depends on the court where you filed the divorce. So if you filed in Texas, then that is the law that applies for community property. As far as his residence, he could still be a LA resident since he spends more time in LA and only goes to MS on weekends. However, where he resides is not really that important. If he is in LA during the week, that is sufficient for you to serve him in LA. You do not want to go to the MS courts, they are very hard to deal with and can take forever to get anything done.

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