Surviving Spouse and Probate

Surviving Spouse and Probate

Husband's and Wife's assets include a joint bank account, and a jointly owned confomimum. The spouse who died had credit card debt solely in her name Is the surviving spouse liable on this debt? If the surviving spouse had no will does her estate have to go through probate? Does this create any problems concerning the credit card debt?


Sorry, but your question was a bit confusing so I tried to paraphrase it. If I don't give you enough information to get you on track, try again. First, if all assets are owned jointly there is no probate estate. Nothing passes under the deceased wife's will. Other questions on this site offered administrative suggestions in such instances. The surviving husband's will is irrelevant to the deceased wife's situation. Jointly owned assets, absent a disclaimer (see below) pass on death to the joint owner, the husband in this case. If the husband as joint owner goes through the formal legal process of stating that he doesn't want certain assets (disclaimer) then those assets would pass through the wife's estate and either as her will states, or if she has no will, pursuant to state law. As for the debt, it depends on the facts and on state law. Since there are no probate assets (all assets pass by joint ownership to husband on wife's death) it might be possible that the debts won't reach these assets. However, state law might have liabilities of the deceased wife's estate flow with the assets she owned. You really have to ask a lawyer. Also the facts might change all this. How were the joint assets purchased? If the deceased wife, for example, put all of her 100% wholly owned property into joint name before her death to avoid probate and creditors, the court may be more inclined to help the creditors. You need to get all the facts and have a consultation with a probate lawyer in your state as to these issues.

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