If my wife caused a car accident and there is a wrongful death suit coming up, are my personal non-community assets in jeopardy?

UPDATED: Dec 5, 2011

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If my wife caused a car accident and there is a wrongful death suit coming up, are my personal non-community assets in jeopardy?

Asked on December 5, 2011 under Accident Law, California


L.P., Member, Pennsylvania and New Jersey Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Thank you for submitting your question regarding your any potential liability you may have for being financially responsible for a wrongful death judgment against your spouse.  The answer to this question would depend greatly on the laws of your state.  The laws for how property can be legally held by spouses can vary from state to state. 

There are several ways that property can be titled and legally held between spouses.  While most people assume that once you get married everything is shared, this is not always the case.  If your real property is held in your sole name by “tenancy by the entirety,” you own the property in whole.  This means that your spouse does not have a legal interest in the property.  This tenancy is only for real property and does not apply to personal property.  Therefore, other assets of personal property could be subject to your spouse’s debt.  Even though you may have purchased a piece of personal property, it does not mean that it is not marital property.  A family law attorney in your area would be able to assist you with determining what property is legal yours alone and your wife holds no legal interest.

Additionally, assuming that your wife has an attorney for her wrongful death action, they should be able to provide guidance as to what property a judgment against your wife could attach to.  Finding out before the judgment might help to protect your interest in your property.  Once the judgment is ordered you may have limited many of your options.


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 AttorneyPages.com 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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