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What Happens to My debt after I Die?

Daryll Pomey Orat - Thursday, March 19, 2015

California is a community property state, which means that all property accumulated within a marriage, including assets as well as debts, are considered the joint property of both the spouses. That means that your spouse could be left dealing with many types of debt after you. This is something that you also need to plan for in your estate plan.

In most other non-community property states, the spouses are not responsible for any types of debt, like credit card debt. The only exceptions would be in those cases, where there was another person or family member who was actually liable for the debt because they were joint owners of the credit card, or some other reason. For instance, if a family member cosigned a student loan, the cosigner would be liable in the case of the death of the borrower.

However, in California, you may not even have that exception. If you die, your spouse may become immediately liable for most of your debt after you. This is something that you need to account for. Speak to an estate planning lawyer in San Jose about how to account for all of the repayment of your debt from the state.

In California, creditors typically try to the target the surviving spouse for recovery of the debt. However, the individual assets or separate property of the surviving spouse is not included in the marital community property, and is not eligible for target by creditors. In other words, creditors can only target the community property of the deceased, now inherited by the spouse.

For more information about how you can protect your assets, and prevent erosion of your assets for your heirs, speak to a San Jose estate planning lawyer.


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