Ask Terry Questions Spouses debt

Spouses debt

By Terry Savage on October 03, 2023 | Credit/Debt

My husband died in June. He left me no life insurance. I am an authorized user on several of his credit cards. I was not able to pay any of them. Now I’m getting letters in the mail under my name saying that they’re going into collections. From what I understand in my state, they cannot come after me for this. However, I’ve also not able to pay my own credit cards either. My mortgage takes all but $50 of my income every month. And I don’t have enough to pay my utilities at this point. I’m at a loss as to what to do. I can’t refinance my own because my credit score has dropped a lot. And I no longer have my husband’s income because we are both on disability. With disability, I’m not entitled to any of his income until I turned 50. That’s another eight years. At this point, I’m drowning. And I really don’t know what to do. I tried calling somebody and asked about a chapter 7 bankruptcy. And the gentleman that I spoke to told me to get a roommate. Absolutely not. Half the time I didn’t even want to live with my husband. That is a joke by the way. But I was told that there’s too much equity in the home for me to file at chapter 7. Which may be true, but I can’t refinance the house to get the money out of it so that I can pay the bills. Help me please.

Terry Says

Immediately contact the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at 800-388-2227. That will connect you to the nearest local office of this non-profit. You can trust their advice. There are a lot of moving parts to this issue.
You are correct that they cannot come after you for debt in his name.
But, big question: was his name on the title of the house? That would not impact your need to repay the unsecured credit card debt, but it could impact your owned assets in the case of a bankruptcy. These advisor will know about that. Was the title in joint name, so you don’t have to go through the probate process to put it in your own name. That’s an important factor.

And I must say, that I have often advised seniors who own homes but can’t pay the expenses to consider a roommate! But from your comment above, that’s truly out of the question. So, instead, I am going to pose another unpleasant alternative!

YOu need to consider selling the house, paying off YOUR OWN credit card debt — and then, if you qualify, and based on your disabilty income, would you consider moving into federally subsidized housing in your area? Don’t yell at me! It seems like this would be the perfect time to make that move. It would likely free up more of your income for food and other expenses,.

Please write back after you do the counseling and let me know what they suggest.



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