Can a wife of a spouse in a mental hospital get out of paying debts that he uncured before being committed?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can a wife of a spouse in a mental hospital get out of paying debts that he uncured before being committed?

Is there in Illinois a legal procedure a wife can take so she doesn’t
have to pay the debts and bills her spouse uncured before he was just
admitted to a mental institution.

Asked on September 14, 2016 under Family Law, Illinois


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If the spouse did not receive the products or services that the debts are for, then if she can show, with a legal (i.e. court) determination that he was mentally incompetent when he entered into the agreements, she should be able to void the agreements (written or oral) underlying the debts due to lack of mental capacity. This would also apply if she can return any goods or products he received. This is because to void a contract, both parties must be returned to their previous condition or state--you can't keep the other party's stuff and get out of paying them.
This means that if the debt is for a service rendered (which cannot be returned, since you can't return the work someone did) or for some good consummed, used up, lost, etc., you can't void the debt, since you can't return what you received.
In practice, if you don't currently have a court order or adjudication of incompetence which can be sent to creditors, if they refuse to cancel the debt, this may entail waiting until sued by the creditors, then raising lack of capacity in court, which would have to be proven with medical or psychological evidence.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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