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Richard, Attorney
Category: Estate Law
Satisfied Customers: 55325
Experience:  29 years of experience practicing law, including tax and estate planning.
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My husband recently died leaving behind about 21k in credit

Customer Question

My husband recently died leaving behind about 21k in credit card debt. I was surprised to see this and kind of shocked. He had many medical expenses. These cards are in his name only. We live in a community property state California. We own a mobile home with right of survivorship. My question is could they attach a lien to our mobile home or could I be forced to sell to pay these credit companies. He has no other assets other than a car in his name only that has a balance that I cannot pay in full but I could finance if I want to keep it. His checking account which I can co-sign on has about 3800 in it currently. There are no monies deposited anymore into it since he only got social security. Thank you for any advice.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Estate Law
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.

Good afternoon Mimi. My name is ***** ***** I look forward to helping you.

First, let me tell you how sorry I am for the loss of your husband. I know this must be a difficult time for you and I will certainly keep you in my prayers.

The answer to your specific question is NO! In community property states, even though only one spouse signed the credit card contract, it is possible that the non-signing spouse may have incurred liability without signing the credit card application. The determining factor when such a debt is incurred during your marriage is this: "Was the credit card used for the benefit of both members of the marriage?" If yes, then liability may accrue to the non-signing spouse in community property states; if no, then the non-signing spouse has no liability. You would want to take the position you had no knowledge of this debt and that you did not benefit from the debt. But, even if you did benefit, they're not going to be able to touch your mobile home because it's an exempt asset. So, you really have no worry. You can simply write the creditors informing them of your husband's death (include a death certificate), that these were his cards from which you received no benefit, that he had no probate estate assets to pay the debt, and that thus the creditor will need to write the debt off as a bad debt. That is typically the end of this for you.

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