My wife passed away in May, 2010. She had 2 credit cards in her name only. Am I resposible for paying off the balances? We live in California. Ther is no "Estate". The only thing we had that was in both our names was a vehicle, which I have since sold.
3 Answers from Attorneys
If the credit card debts were incurred during marriage and deemed community debts, then yes you are responsible. You may have to negotiate with the credit card companies for a settlement.
To be more accurate, community property is responsible for payment of debts incurred a marriage. If you did not sign for the credit cards, which were not in your name, you are not responsible for payment of the debts. If you received your wife's share of the community property after her death, you may be responsible for payment of the debts to the extent of the value of the community property you received from your wife. Depending on the amount of the debts, you may have other options, other than negotiating with the creditors, as well. You should consult with an attorney for specific advice.
I disagree with White, unless you have no money or assets acquired with earnings earned during the marriage. He is right that only community assets are answerable for community debt, but what you got from your wife is hardly likely to be the only community property you have. The community property you had in your separate accounts before she passed away is also answerable for the debt.