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My husband recently passed away

Mattoon, IL |
Filed under: Estate planning

we were married 9-9-09 and seperated 10-18-09 we had not seen or talked since i didnt even know where he was i found out he died by accident. his mother sent me a message today telling me to contact a lawyer and said all his bills were coming in and as his wife i was responsible for his debt. is this true i do not feel i am, help

Attorney Answers 3


Your mother-in-paw is correct. You should contact a lawyer. Not only is the issue of funeral bills (which you may not owe) but there is also the possibility that you may have inherited from your estranged husband.

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I am a NY attorney and cannot advise you as to your state's laws, but I can provide certain general information that may be helpful. The fact that you and your late husband were together for such a short period of time is really not relevant from a legal standpoint. In most states, a surviving spouse will receive at least one third of the estate. The estate will be responsible for the decedent's debts.

You should consult promptly with a local attorney, who will be able to advise you as to what rights and what obligations you have.

Michael S. Haber is a New York attorney. As such, his responses to posted inquiries, such as the one above, are limited to his understanding of law in the jurisdiction in which he practices and not to any other jurisdiction. In addition, no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to constitute legal advice, nor to constitute the existence of an attorney/client or other contractual or fiduciary relationship, inasmuch as rendering legal advice involves the ability of the attorney to ask appropriate questions of the person seeking such advice and to thus gather appropriate information. In addition, an attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement. The purpose of this answer is to provide the questioner with general information, not to outline specific legal rights and remedies.

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I would fully agree with Ms. Goldstein. You need to consult with a local attorney to see what rights and or obligations you may have in this situation.

You can find an attorney on this website or at

Good Luck to you!

Legal Disclaimer: Paul A. Smolinski is licensed to practice law in the State of Illinois only, and as such, his answers to AVVO inquiries are based on his understanding of Illinois law only. His answers are for general information about perceived legal issues within this question only and no response to any posted inquiry should be deemed to extend any right of confidentiality between you and Mr. Smolinski, to constitute legal advice, or create an attorney/client or other contractual relationship. An attorney/client relationship is formed only by specific agreement including an evaluation of the specific legal problem and review of all the facts and documents at issue. We try to insure the accuracy of this information, but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. The reader should never assume that this information applies to his or her specific situation or constitutes legal advice. Therefore, please consult competent counsel that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction and who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances.

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