Springfield, VA asked in Estate Planning and Probate for Virginia

Q: My wife just passed we were living apart for 5 years no formal separation agreement. She opened credit cards on her own

And was with freedom agency. Am I responsible for paying it ,no will, she did buy my son a truck in her name and the house is in both mine and her name

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2 Lawyer Answers
James D. Williams
James D. Williams
Answered
  • Richmond, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: Virginia would not consider you divorced unless you filed for divorce. From there, intestacy procedures and the terms of the contract for the credit cards would apply. In theory, you should be able to contact the credit card companies and close out the accounts if they are solely in your wife's name. If she truly doesn't have a will, then she died intestate. In Virginia, the system generally works that the estate would go to the surviving spouse, but if there are pension plans, 401K plans, life insurance plans, or transfer on death deeds that designate beneficiaries, then regardless of her marriage status, those will go to the designated beneficiary. You should check in with an estate planning attorney to ensure these details are correct because the distribution can be affected by many variables, such as if your wife had children from a prior marriage, etc.

James H. Wilson Jr.
James H. Wilson Jr.
PREMIUM
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Glen Allen, VA
  • Licensed in Virginia

A: A spouse is not liable to third parties for his or her spouse's debts by virtue of the marriage with two exceptions, emergency medical care and necessaries. Neither should apply when the debts were incurred after the spouses had separated.

A spouse will remain liable on any joint debts after the death of his or her spouse. Most spouses in Virginia hold title to the marital residence as tenants by the entirety with the common-law right of survivorship. The surviving spouse would become the sole owner of the property upon the death of his or her spouse, and the only person liable for the mortgage, if there is one.

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