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Law Educator, Esq.
Law Educator, Esq., Lawyer
Category: Family Law
Satisfied Customers: 117370
Experience:  Experienced attorney: Family law, Estate Law, SS Law etc.
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I have a complicated situation regarding my mother (residing

Customer Question

I have a complicated situation regarding my mother (residing in California) and her estranged husband (resided in Oregon). He just passed away and they are still married, but she has been living with me in California for the past two years. She has mental health issues and has been hospitalized several times because of it since she began living with me.
When she left her husband she thought she had signed over everything and had her name taken off all of the paperwork and accounts. Now she's been told that his bank account is overdrawn by over $1,000 and as more debt charges are attempted she would be responsible for all of those debts. Her name is ***** ***** on the mortgage, and he has an RV that he bought and her name is ***** ***** that as well. We have access to his bank account or statements, don't know about any other debts, and his adult children are having challenges finding documentation. My mom does not have much money, just some money she received after her mother passed away last year. She has a small amount of social security coming in now ($750), and he had been sending her $700 per month for spousal support on his own because they never did anything to make the separation legal.
I assume we need figure out how to get access to his accounts, put some money in to pay bills until everything is resolved. My mom wants to have his daughter take over the house payments since she's been living in the house anyway, and she's concerned about her and her husband missing payments.
Do we need to get an attorney to help us figure this stuff out? She doesn't want anything other than the social security and any pension payments that are due to her, and then any money that he left in his small life insurance plan for her (probably a couple thousand dollars). But she also doesn't want to be held accountable for his debts. We just don't know what to do. any advice would be greatly appreciated
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Family 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.

If she is surviving spouse and no property division and legal separation of community has been signed and entered into the court, you are now going to have to file for probate in the probate court in Oregon with her as surviving spouse and the probate court is going to have to decide who gets paid and what. In general, she would not be liable for personal debts, but anything that her name is ***** ***** she is going to be personally liable for. She is going to need an attorney in Oregon if that is where he died, to open probate and collect all of the assets of the estate and sell off what needs to be sold to pay off all of the debts and then anything left over she would be able to receive her share of together with any descendants of her husband. This will require a probate attorney in Oregon to handle the estate to resolve all of these matters.