The Memorial service was months ago. You are attempting to get used to being alone but the emotion of grief is still very raw. Now, you take some time to sort out your deceased spouse's finances. You start to receive threatening letters that say you are responsible for these debts. Revenue Canada and collection companies starts to phone you to collect. They are very persuasive. You are confused as to your rights but the creditors are very determined to get their money. In most cases, you are not liable to pay your late spouse's debts unless there is a specific written agreement making you liable. You may be liable if you have co-signed or guaranteed a credit card debt or loan. The terms and conditions of a loan or credit card agreement need to be reviewed carefully to determine whether you are liable. Put simply, you do not inherit your spouse's debts. An estate litigation lawyer can assist you dealing with creditors.
In law, spouses are treated as separate individuals responsible for their own finances. You are not responsible for your spouse's income tax debts. If you have a joint credit card or a joint bank loan, you are jointly responsible for the debt and the bank or credit card company will look to you for payment after your spouse's debt. Spousal debt can lead to estate litigation.
The first year after a loved one's death is a very difficult time of transition. Dealing with creditors is stressful even in good times. If you are unsure as to whether you owe money on any debt after your spouse's death, we can help.