I am not licensed to practice law in your state.
Generally speaking, you are not liable for your late husband's debts. If your husband left a will, you really should talk to a local attorney about probating the will. This will help you resolve the credit matters and prevent significant problems for you if you want to sell the house or cars and for remaining relatives after your death.
This information is given for educational purposes only. No attorney-client relationship exists between us.
I'm sorry for your loss.
You are able to probate your husband's will yourself, if you wish. Washington law is user friendly, inexpensive, and relatively quick. See RCW Title 11. This would resolve your debt issues, by putting the onus on the creditors to make their claims against his estate, once you properly notified them of his death. Then you, as personal representative (PR) (also called executor in some states) would only pay those claims that were valid.
You likely are liable for his debts. There is a presumption that debts are for the benefit of the community (family or couple) and that makes the community liable for them. There are a couple very old cases that found a cheating husband's debts that were acquired during his infidelity were not community debts, as they weren't for the benefit of the community (car accident with mistress and car bought for mistress), but I would not rely on them. It is likely that the credit card employees would not know whether you were liable for the debt though, because they only have names on accounts to go by, are likely not in a community property state, and aren't aware of the laws necessarily.
You do need to inform your financial institution and all creditors of your husband's death. You won't get in trouble for doing it late, but it needs to be done and his name needs to be taken off of the accounts. The bank will need to see an orignial death certificate.
I hope this helps. Feel free to email if you have further questions.
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