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What Happens to Your Debts if Your Ex-spouse Dies?

Q: In 2006 my husband and I decided to divorce. We had many joint debts he was supposed to pay but didn’t.

Then he died unexpectedly in 2007. Now my credit is ruined.

Should I file bankruptcy or let those old debts fall off my credit report?

A: Under the law, any loans you co-signed for with your husband are both of your responsibilities.

So even though your husband did not pay the bills before his untimely death in 2007, this means that you are legally on the hook for all the debts you mentioned – including the three rental properties you owned together, the car lot, and that $17,000 bank loan that was in both of your names.

Filing bankruptcy will only exacerbate your credit problems.

You stated that you can’t secure financing for anything now.

That will only get worse if you file bankruptcy.

The Sting of Bankruptcy Will Last Longer Than Defaulted Loans and Foreclosure

You also stated that there is no way you can pay back all that was owed.

In my opinion, it would be better to let those negative marks stay on your credit for four more years or so, and then the damage will have been done.

It does not sound as if creditors are harassing you, trying to garnish your wages, or attempting to seize your assets.

In this case, if you owned a home and were trying to protect it, and you had many other mounting debts you could not pay, then a Chapter 13 bankruptcy filing would shield your own home from foreclosure and give you some financial protection from creditors.

But that does not seem to be an issue. You already have 3 foreclosures on your credit report based on the rental properties that went unpaid. Don’t make your situation worse by filing bankruptcy – which will stay on your credit report for up to 10 years.

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