Chapter 5When should I file bankruptcy?
Chapter 6What do I lose if I file bankruptcy?
Chapter 8What can bankruptcy do for you?
Chapter 9What Does Bankruptcy Cost?
Chapter 18What About My Car in Bankruptcy?
Chapter 19What Happens to My House in Bankruptcy?
Chapter 20When Will Creditors Stop Bothering Me?
Chapter 23When do I stop paying my creditors?
Chapter 24Gas, cable, electric and phone bill
Chapter 26What Bankruptcy won't solve
Chapter 27Chapter 13 Debt repayment Plans
Chapter 28Will I be able to get credit again?
Chapter 29Bill Consolidation Loans
Chapter 30Bill Consolidation Scams
Chapter 31Wage Assignments, Deductions and Levies
Chapter 32Student Loans
Chapter 33Can I get rid of Taxes
Chapter 34NSF Checks, Traffic & Parking Tickets
Chapter 35Surrendering Real Estate & Time Shares
Chapter 36Business Bankruptcy
Chapter 37Professional Persons
Chapter 38Do you ever "Not Get" a Discharge?
This is a very sad situation. Here’s a typical question we get: “My (wife) (husband) (step mom/dad) died, do I/my father/mother have to pay all her bills if I/she/he did not sign for them”.
The answer is generally NO, with a few exceptions. The reason the answer is “no” is that in order to be liable for a debt, you must have agreed to it, generally in writing, or some law must make you liable for it. Any bankruptcy filing only discharges your debts. You cannot file a bankruptcy case for a deceased person. You cannot file a bankruptcy case for anyone else other than yourself, with the exception that if a person is mentally incompetent, there court-appointed administrator of the personal estate may be able to file a bankruptcy petition.
It is very rare to have somebody enforce an oral promise. If you accompany your sick spouse to the hospital, and they sign in, and you did not sign that you agreed to pay for their medical care, they are not going to file a lawsuit against you because you said to the billing clerk if she doesn’t pay the bills I will.
As far as a written promise, married people can make their own debts. Women do not have to have their husband sign for them to buy a car anymore, they can buy it all by themselves. If Mrs. Jones buys a car, and passes away without paying for it, Mr. Jones is not liable on it, because Mrs. Jones went out and bought it all by yourself, as she is perfectly entitled to do. What Mr. Jones should do is call the finance company and say I’m sorry to tell you, but Mrs. Jones passed away and there was no death insurance rider that I can see that she bought to pay off the loan in the event of her death, so nobody’s going to be paying for this car anymore and you can come and pick it up.
If Mrs. Jones did not die with no assets, but died with an estate that is going to be probated, then give her bills to her probate lawyer or heirs, if you are not an heir or administrator. Bills of a deceased person, or more properly the debts of the deceased person, or claims against their estate, so that if they left any property to be divided up among heirs, or even if they left property and there are no errors, probate estate should be opened and the bills should be forwarded to the administrator or the executor of the estate for payment.
The other exception to actually signing on bills is the law in eight states, one of which is Wisconsin, that debts made during the marriage or community debts. So if Mr. and Mrs. Jones lived in a community property state, and Mrs. Jones made debts by herself while she was married, Mr. Jones may be on the hook for those community debts.
So, if you did not make yourself obligated for the debt by signing a contract or alone, and there is no probate estate going to be opened, and you don’t live in a community property state, spouses or other relatives are not liable for the bills of their deceased husband wife sister mother father or brother. The usual procedure is to tell the finance company, if they call or send a bill, that poor Mrs. Jones is not with us anymore, and send them a photocopy of her death certificate, so they can write it off.
So, do not call the bankruptcy lawyer and try to file a bankruptcy for a deceased person, and don’t worry about the bills of a deceased person unless you signed on them, or lived in a community property state where you were married to them.
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