Am I responsible for my deceased wife's credit card debt; if the card is in her name only, and was opened without my knowledge? The state is New Jersey.
1 Answer from Attorneys
You are not personally responsible for your deceased wife's individual debts including credit card debt from an account that is in her name alone. However, your wife's estate IS responsible for her debts in the priority order set out in the statute on estates. So long as there is property in her estate, it should be applied to pay debts before any part of the estate is available for distribution to heirs or beneficiaries such as you. There are exceptions for property that passes outside of probate such as insurance proceeds paid to a beneficiary or the deceased spouse's share of a marital home. Note that there is an estate even if your wife did not have a will. You may want to consult with a lawyer who handles estate administration if there is any appreciable amount of property involved.
See also: http://info.corbettlaw.net/lawguru.htm