Your spouse has a lien or bank levy against them for an unpaid debt and creditors are insisting that you are also responsible for their debt. Are they right? When determining if you are responsible for the debt of your spouse, ask yourself these questions:

Were You Married When Your Spouse Became in Debt?

If your spouse had the debt taken out against them after you were married, then you can be responsible as well. However, if they accrued the debt before you were married, you are not responsible for paying off their debt and creditors cannot go after your accounts. If you signed on as a joint account holder after you married you are then responsible for the debt as well.

Have You Taken Out Loans Together?

If you have taken out loans with your spouse, such as a home loan, then you will also be responsible for your spouse’s debt. If you did not co-sign a loan, a credit card or a joint account with your spouse, you are typically safe from creditors.

Remember, even if you didn’t sign a contract or loan, you can still be responsible for “necessary items” like medical care.

Do You Live in a Community Property State?

If you live in a community property state, you and your spouse share debt, even if you did not co-sign on a loan or other contract. However, some spouses can choose to divide up community property in a way that their debts will not be passed on to their spouse.

Community property states include:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Idaho
  • New Mexico
  • Louisiana
  • Texas
  • Washington
  • Wisconsin

Is Your Spouse Deceased?

In the case that your spouse has passed away and left unpaid debts, you can be responsible for them under certain circumstances. For example, if you live in a community property state and you co-signed on a loan. But generally, you are not responsible for your deceased spouse’s debts like credit cards if it is solely in their name.

When dealing with your spouse’s debts, it’s important to know your rights. If you find that creditors are still insisting that you are responsible for your spouse’s debt, talk to a lawyer to protect your assets.

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The above information is for educational purposes only. All information, loan programs and interest rates are subject to change without notice. All loans subject to underwriter approval. Terms and conditions apply. Always consult an accountant or tax advisor for full eligibility requirements on tax deduction.