Q: Spouse died, had a business loan-can the bank pressure me to pay if I'm not on the note, nor a part of his business?
I work at this bank and my position as been threatened if I don't pay this loan, which I cannot afford. I can hardly look the president in the eye anymore. Up until my husband passed, I've been held in high esteem by the president and the board. The bank was poorly underwritten and had they asked me about it, I would have told them not to do the loan. I'm a 60 year old executive officer and deposits ops expert who needs a job and will no doubt have problems finding a new one near the salary I make now. I feel like they've totally ruined my career over $65K. Thank you.
A: Sounds like you are in a very difficult situation. I don't think I can speak to the employment-related issues.
As for the debt, as a general matter, if you did not sign the note, did not sign a guarantee related to the note, and were not part of the business that borrowed the money, then you typically would not have a direct liability for the debt.
There are a variety of factors that may influence that answer. Was your spouse's "business" a separate legal entity or actually just a sole proprietorship? Was it a limited liability entity for which your spouse maintained a clear separation between the business and family assets (as opposed to co-mingling money and failing to observe the corporate formalities of the separate entity)? These issues might influence whether the debt is the debt of the "business" or whether the debt is the debt of your spouse.
You don't mention it, but you may also need to review the loan documents for what assets your spouse may have used as collateral to secure the loan (if any collateral was used). Were those assets owned by the business? By you and your spouse personally?
Regardless, the bank may be interested in pursuing a claim as a creditor of your spouse's estate. In that scenario, them looking to you to repay some/all of the debt may simply be them looking to who they believe is/will be the personal representative for your spouse's probate estate.
An employment law attorney may be able to provide more insight into how appropriate it may or may not be for your employer/supervisors to bring up this debt or whether the facts you've described could rise to the level of some form of harassment or a hostile work environment.
Good luck as you face this difficult time.
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