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Richard, Attorney
Category: Legal
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Experience:  Attorney with 29 years of experience.
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I live in mo and my wife passed away over a year ago. I am

Customer Question

I live in mo and my wife passed away over a year ago. I am receiving hospital bills from almost 2 years ago that just started showing up. I will probably get a bill from when she died too. I have a reverse mortgage on my house, and my only income is afire dept. pension of t400.00and 164.00 per month social security. do I have to pay these bills and can my pensions be garnisheed?
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Legal
Expert:  Richard replied 1 year ago.

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

The short answers to your questions are No. First, Missouri is not a community property state. If spouses do not reside in a community property state, and only one spouse signed the loan contract (such as a credit card agreement), then the signatory-spouse is the only party liable for the debt. The other spouse, being the non-signatory spouse, does not share in such liabilities of the signing spouse. So, as surviving spouse, you would have no responsibility for such debt. But, to the extent the late husband's estate has any probate assets, those would be subject to the creditor claims. But, that only includes probate assets. Assets that are not probate assets are: i) joint accounts which vest automatically in the surviving joint owner; ii) real property held as joint tenants with right of survivorship or as tenancy by the entirety, which property vests automatically in the surviving owner; and iii) assets with named beneficiaries, such as retirement plans and life insurance policies. None of these are probate assets and thus are not subject to the claims of the creditors of the deceased spouse. Second, your pensions are exempt assets and cannot be touched by these type of creditors.

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