What to do about an old debt?

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What to do about an old debt?

About 13 years ago, my ex-husband and I had a car repossessed. We were divorced 2 years later. At divorce he took responsibility for the debt incurred. My ex passed away 3 years ago. Last week I was subpoenaed to court for the bill. During the past 12 years I have not been contacted regarding this debt until last year, 2 years after my ex had passed. I pulled my credit report 2 months ago to refinance and there’s nothing on my credit report. Am I now responsible for this debt, along with all the interest and fees its accrued after all these years? What should my next step be?

Asked on November 23, 2012 under Bankruptcy Law, Maine

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

Unfortunately, the auto lender was not a party to your divorce, so your late ex-husband's agreement to take over that debt has no effect on the lender. The fact is that since you were also on the loan, you remain liable for its repayment.

Further, a creditor can attempt to collect on any legitimate debt at any time. However, depending on just how much time has passed, they may have lost the right to legal enforcement of their claim. Typically, if they didn't obtain a judgement within 3-10 years (depending on the state) they cannot get one awarded now. And without one, they have no rights to garnish wages, lien property or take any other legal enforcement action against you. So this collector can only ask you to pay (they cannot take any legal action against you) without a judgement.

If, however, they obtained a valid judgement (i.e. they filed for a judgment within the legal time limit), then they can try to enforce such a kudgment until it expires. As a general rule, they are typically valid for 6-20 years (depending on the state).

Bottom line, you need to know if they have a judgement and, if they do, you need to know when it was obtained. You then need to check with your state to see how long such judgments are valid. If this creditor does have a judgment that has not expired, you will need to discuss repayment arrangements with them.

eric redman / Redman Ludwig, P.C.

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

a judgment is good for 20 years in Indiana and they would have had to sue you in 10 years , most likley.  so you may owe this with all the interest etc.

make payment arrangements or file a bankruptcy to get rid mof this and other debts


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