Can I file bankruptcy with my deceased spouse?

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Written by Andrea Wimmer, Esq..  
Updated December 31, 2019

Summary

No, you can't file bankruptcy jointly with your late spouse. But, you can (and should) make sure that all of their debts are listed on your schedules so any payment obligation you may have to the creditors can be discharged in as part of your case.

No, you can't file bankruptcy jointly with your late spouse. But, you can (and should) make sure that all of their debts are listed on your schedules so any payment obligation you may have to the creditors can be discharged in as part of your case.

If you're expecting an inheritance or life insurance proceeds following the passing of your spouse, consider speaking to a bankruptcy attorney before doing anything. Otherwise, you may be in for a surprise when the bankruptcy trustee makes a claim on your inheritance, even if you won't get it until after your case is filed. A bankruptcy attorney will be able to advise you on whether your expected inheritance or life insurance proceeds are protected by an available  exemption and how timing can make a difference.

To learn more about your responsibility to pay off the debts of your deceased spouse, check out this detailed guide from our friends at the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.

About the author

Andrea Wimmer, Esq.

Andrea practiced exclusively as debtors’ counsel in consumer chapter 7 and 13 cases for more than 10 years before joining Upsolve, first as a contributing writer and editor and ultimately joining the team full time in August 2019. While in private practice, Andrea handled all ban... read more

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