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Does your divorce protect you from debt if your ex passes away?

When you think of the day your divorce will be finalized, you probably envision a day in which you can totally break ties with your ex. Of course, divorcees with children will still have the children to tie them together, but you probably don't think that anything else will tie you together. While that is true in most cases, there is an exception to this thought.

That exception occurs if your ex passes away while he or she is still making payments on debts you incurred during your marriage. You might be wondering how that is possible. Here is your answer. Texas is a community property state. That means that assets you gain and debts you incur from the day you are married until the day your separation becomes legal are divided equally when you divorce.

That seems like a basic enough principle, but there is more to the story. Your divorce settlement is nothing more than an agreement between you and your spouse that says how everything will be divvied up. The creditors listed on the settlement didn't agree to the terms of the divorce. That means that if your ex passes away, the creditor can still come to you to get the debt satisfied.

While this isn't a situation that most people want to consider, it is something that should be thought of when settling a divorce. Unless you have an accord and satisfaction agreement signed by the creditor -- which most creditors shy away from unless your ex can prove that he or she can and will satisfy the debt -- you will have to pay the debt that the your ex was responsible for paying per the divorce settlement. If you do pay the bill, you can always file a claim with your ex's estate. You might be able to recoup the money if the estate isn't insolvent.

Source:  Click2Houston.com, "Your dead ex-spouse's debt can be your problem" Jeanne Sahadi, Jun. 25, 2014

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