Debt Collections

Debt Collection Laws in Community Property States

Collection Accounts and Debt Collection Laws

I get many questions concerning if a person is responsible for a credit card debt or any other debt for that matter, if their spouse passes away. This depends on the individual state you reside in.  In a community property state, if you are married, both you and your spouse’s income and debts are counted as joint income, assets, and debts during your marriage.  If your husband or wife passes away, you will be responsible for his or her debt if he or she passes on a community property state.

Debt collection laws and community property states

If you live in a non community property state, you will not be responsible for your husband or wife’s debt.  Check to see if you live in a community property state.

Debt collection laws and non-community property states

If you live in a non community property state, your spouse’s estate could be responsible for his or her outstanding date.  When the estate goes through probate, the estate’s executor is going to take inventory of your spouse’s assest and liabilities and make a determination of which bills need to be paid and the order it needs to be paid.  After paying all of the debts and liabilities of the estate, the remainder of the assets will be distributed to the deceased heirs.  The distribution of assets will be paid to the heirs by the instructions on the deceased will.  If there is no will, the executor of the estate will make that determination by the laws of the state in which the deceased has the assets and if there is a dispute among the heirs, then the courts will decide on the fate of the assets.

Collection Agencies are governed by federal Debt Collection Laws

Although you might live in a non community property state and you are not responsible for you spouse’s debt, collection agencies will still try to call you and try to collect on your spouse’s debt.  Even if your spouse’s debt is charged off by the original creditor, there are scavenger collection agencies that will purchase old charged off debts for pennies on the dollar and try to collect the full amount of the original debt.

Check to see if you are in a community property state

If a collection agency calls you and tries to collect on your spouse’s debt, kindly tell them not to contact you anymore because the debt does not belong to you and the responsible person for the debt has passed away.  If they do not leave you alone, contact your state Attorney General’s office and file a complaint because this practice is prohibited and illegal.


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