My existing bills after I die

UPDATED: Dec 30, 2017

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My existing bills after I die

How can my wife and children not be burdened with my bills after I die
without life insurance

Asked on December 30, 2017 under Estate Planning, Tennessee


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

They become debts of your "estate"--the assets and property you leave behind--but not of your wife and child personally. Debts do not transfer from one person to another. Being debts of the estate means  that creditors can try to take or reach any assets (money, real estate) you leave behind, so they can potentially get the assets your family would otherwise inherit. However, if the bills or debts are greater than you assets or estate, the creditors cannot force your wife or children to pay out of their own money or enter into payment plans; all the creditors can get, at most, is what you are leaving to your family.
(Exceptions: if you wife co-signed or guaranteed any bills or obligations, she is liable for them; and she may be liable for certain of your final medical expenses, since spouses have an obligation to take care of--and pay for the care of--each other in this regard.) 
If possible, get life insurance, even if only a small policy to handle your final bills or costs.

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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