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Can I avoid my deceased husband’s creditors by not opening his estate?

Posted on Mon Oct 19, 2015, on Probate and Estate Administration

From our “Ask a Question” Mailbag: Avoiding Probate in Burlington County

Most Recently Updated July 31, 2018.

“My husband died a resident of Burlington County without a will. All his assets were owned joint accounts with me. This week, I received a form letter in the mail saying a bank had issued a statement and proof of claim against my husband’s estate and requesting immediate payment in full. It is addressed to his estate, but came in the mail to me. What should I do?”

Jointly Owned Property with Children

Avoiding Probate in Burlington County

Avoiding Probate in Burlington County

When someone dies without a will and all their assets are held jointly with a spouse, there is no need to file a will. The assets pass to the surviving spouse because of the joint ownership. That being said, avoiding probate this way does not mean that your husband avoided his creditors.

If you are not responsible for the debt yourself, then creditors cannot legally pursue you for payment as the wife, regardless of what a debt collector might say when trying to convince you. However, they can ask that the payment be made from his share of the joint accounts.

To enforce this claim, though, they will have to retain a probate attorney to open the estate as an unpaid creditor and then pursue the joint asset. This is an expensive process, so unless the debt is large, they will likely not pursue the claim. However, if they were successful, those funds would likely come out of the joint account and they will likely seek attorney’s fees for having to pursue their claim.

More Probate Questions?

Avoiding Probate in Burlington County is only part of the overall probate process. By all means, if you wish to learn more, please read my more detailed article, The Probate Process All You Need to Know.

In Conclusion: Avoiding Probate in Burlington County

I hope that this article was helpful in explaining Avoiding Probate in Burlington County. Further, I included links to even more detailed information on my website. Therefore, please contact me and let me know how I did. Certainly, your comments and questions are welcome!

Let our Probate Lawyers help walk you through what can be a confusing process. To begin with, call to speak to one of our experienced Probate Attorneys.  By all means, our lawyers are ready to answer your questions. In fact, feel free to contact our office for a free consultation. Ultimately our goal is to make the process as painless as possible!

Wills, Trusts, Probate, and Estate Litigation, It’s All We Do

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Avoiding Probate, Burlington County, creditor claims, New Jersey, Probate, Probate Attorney, Probate Lawyer

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