Am I responsible to pay off the debts of my deceased spouse?

Answer: In many cases you will not be responsible for paying off your deceased spouse's debts. There are some exceptions and these vary by state and circumstances.

In many cases you will not be responsible for paying off your deceased spouse’s debts. However, you may be responsible for your deceased spouse’s debt if you co-signed the loan or credit agreement or if you live in a community property state. There are some other situations in which you may be responsible for your deceased spouse’s debt, though these exceptions vary by state.

If you have questions about whether you are legally obligated to pay a deceased spouse’s debts from your own assets, here are some steps you can take:

  • Find out if the debt is your responsibility by talking to a lawyer familiar with your state’s laws.
  • Find out if the debt is one where the statute of limitations has expired. Often there are a limited number of years that someone can be sued for an unpaid debt. The statute of limitations may vary by state and according to the type of debt.
  • If you are being contacted by a debt collector, you can dispute the debt or request more information about the debt. The CFPB has prepared sample letters that a you could use to respond to a debt collector.

Ask CFPB provides general consumer information. It is not legal advice or regulatory guidance. The CFPB updates this information periodically.

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