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Buachaill, Barrister
Category: European Law
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Experience:  Barrister
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My husband has debts in the UK accrued before our marriage

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My husband has debts in the UK accrued before our marriage and not addressed. We have since moved to the ROI and he only has a checking account, no credit cards as he is attempting nonacknowledgement and is several years in with no contact. I have been given a significant five figure sum from a family member to be used towards a home in the USA. The check sent is in USD and putting it in my separate UK or ROI account can take over a month to clear and the loss is transfer rate is significant. I was told HSBC allows you to open a USD account here with a non US address. The only time my name intermingled with my husband's credit was when we applied for a mortgage in the UK and they did a credit check, this was when he was still paying on his debts but I was unaware of them. We did not proceed, it was to simply investigate how much we could be offered towards a mortgage. Aside from that instance our accounts and credit history are separate. One of the banks my husband owes to is HSBC, for a loan and credit card debt. If I open an account with them and deposit this foreign check, could they link my husband to me and could they take my monies (freeze the account) towards his debts? If this is a risk I will have to wait until I go to the US to deposit it into a checking account there unless you know of another option.

Buachaill :

1. At the outset, you need to realise that despite you being married to your husband, in law, you are both separate entities so far as debts and liabilities are concerned. There is no rule of law that a wife must be made responsible or liable in any way for the debts of her husband. Accordingly, HSBC or any other bank, cannot appropriate any of your money in respect of your husband's debts. However, from a financial point of view, it would be better if you banked your USD cheque with some financial institution to which your husband does not owe money. This is because if your husband is attempting to let the Statute of Limitations take care of his debts, it is best not to bring to their attention that you, his wife, have any money. Effectively, if the bank perceives you have money, it will put pressure on your husband to use some of the money for his debts. Nowadays, the credit reference agencies, such as Experian, from which the banks get their information will have full data on who is living with whom and where. Accordingly, if you suddenly have a lot of money or a better credit record, then the banks will become aware that your husband is living with someone with means. This may influence the banks attitude towards your husband's bad debts. Certainly, if you lodge money directly with HSBC, then they most certainly will be aware that you are married and that money is owing by your husband. in such circumstances, you can expect them to pursue your husband vigorously. The best advice is to bank the money in the US until all of your husband's debts are statute barred. Whilst the banks cannot touch the money because it is yours, they can make things unpleasant for your husband, such as making him bankrupt, if their debts are not discharged.

Buachaill :

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