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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 116706
Experience:  Experienced in Trust and Succession Law, including Louisiana Laws
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My husband of 33years & I have been living separately years,

Customer Question

My husband of 33years & I have been living separately for 3 years, me in NY he in Fla. I will eventually inherit my elderly moms house & estate worth 200K. My husband has alot of unpaid debt and basically shows no plan to change this behavior. How will this affect me when I inherit this estate?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Law Educator, Esq. replied 1 year 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.

The general rule in both FL and NY is that a spouse is not generally liable to the separate debt of their other spouse unless it was debt incurred for a marital purpose. However, this does not prevent debt collectors from trying to collect from the surviving spouse, especially in NY where there are laws about a spouse being liable for marital debt incurred by the other spouse. However, you can protect your inheritance by setting up what is called an "irrevocable trust" and taking the inheritance into that irrevocable trust. You need to sit down with your mom now and get a trust set up.

An irrevocable trust is separate from you and no creditor, including even medicaid, can come after any property in the trust and that is why the irrevocable trust is called the ultimate asset protection tool.

However, the trust is an added precaution, because if you have been estranged for 3 years, they could not prove the debt was for a marital purpose and it is highly unlikely they would be able to collect anything from you for his separate debts, but again it does not stop them from trying and the trust would be the added protection so you can avoid even having to defend yourself against their efforts if they try.

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