If I die in california, will my wife have to pay my unsecured credit card debt, that is in my name only?

Asked almost 6 years ago - San Bernardino, CA

I have about $45,000 in credit card debt. All cards are in my name only, and were obtained before I got married. Should I die in California where we live, will my widow be responsible to pay this unsecured debt?

Attorney answers (1)

  1. Clifford Sculley Bordeaux


    Contributor Level 10

    Answered . The answer, unfortunately, is "it depends."

    In general, debts incurred before marriage are "separate property" debts, which means that the spouse of the debtor is not liable. However, if you own assets at your death, those assets will need to be used to satisfy any of your separate property debt. Normally, this would be handled through a probate unless your assets are held in a trust (in which case the trust assets could be sold to pay off the debts).

    If you wanted to avoid this result, you could transfer all of your assets to your wife. However, you should check with an attorney about fraudulent transfer rules before trying this.

Related Topics


There are different types of debt, but all involve one person (the debtor) owing money to another (the creditor). Terms of repayment are governed by a contract.

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