This is an obvious concern of any individual who has lost their spouse. In addition to feeling the loss of their partner, they now have the stress of dealing with any debt that is remaining. While this is a difficult time, there is some good news on the horizon.
Any debt that was incurred by an individual as an individual is solely their responsibility. Just because you are married to them does not mean that you have to pay any debt that was incurred under their name alone.
Unfortunately, any debt that was accumulated as a joint account will still have to be paid. However, some credit cards and loans will offer insurance on the debt in case one of the parties dies. This is not offered by all providers, but it is definitely something worth looking into when the debt load on joint accounts is extremely high.
Something else to consider is the unfortunate instance when a spouse has opened up an account in your name without your knowledge. It is for this very reason that we recommend pulling your own credit report periodically to monitor it and make sure that all information on the report is accurate.
If this is something that is not normally done, make sure a report is pulled after a spouse’s death so you are not greeted with the unfortunate news that you have a credit card or loan that you did not know about.