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Considering liabilities when an ex-spouse dies

When a couple in Ohio is struggling with the dissolution process, they often consider various options in order to get through it without going into debt. While it can be challenging to sort through all their differences as well as their property and assets, reaching an amicable divorce settlement is a likely possibility. While the property division process can be challenging, taking the time to divide everything properly could help them avoid future problems.

While reaching a divorce settlement appears to be the end to the disputes regarding who gets what, it might not be the end of all financial issues regarding an ex-spouse. With regards to debts, depending on the stipulations made during the marriage, divorce might not end a divorced party's liabilities attached to the debt. This is common in community property states where they treat everything acquired prior to and during marriage as marital property.

Depending on how debts were documented in the marriage and how they were divided in a divorce, creditors could still come after an individual for debts belonging to an ex-spouse. Even if a divorce settlement assigns a certain debt to the ex, if they die before paying it off, the creditor could still seek payment for the debt from the living ex-spouse. If this occurs, a surviving ex-spouse could make a claim against his or her ex's estate, but it might be insolvent.

In order to prepare for such an occurrence and avoid being liable for a debt in the event of the death of his or her ex, a divorcing party could enter a novation or an accord and satisfaction with creditors. This will ensure that the liability for the debt remains entirely with the ex-spouse.

There are many things to consider when going through a divorce, especially when there are numerous assets and liabilities to sort through. Many challenges could present themselves, and some couples seek the collaborative law route in order to avoid additional hurdles, reach a timely agreement and avoid the high costs of divorce. This alternative process is not right for everyone, but should be considered in order to reach a timely divorce settlement.

Source: Everything Lubbock, "Your Dead Ex-Spouse's Debt Can Become Your Problem," Jeanne Sahadi, Aug. 4, 2014

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