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Am I Answerable for My Husband’s $60K Automotive Mortgage if He Dies?

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Pricey Penny,

I’m fortunately married (25 years) and retired for medical causes (I’m 58). My husband makes good cash. We’re assembly all of our fundamental wants, however his retirement is severely underfunded.

We needed to dig out of debt just lately and are down to at least one zero-interest bank card we nonetheless owe about $18,000 on. Our house will likely be paid off in about 4 years, and I ship $300 further every month. 

My husband may be very set on getting an costly new automotive that prices about $60,000. I can’t discuss him out of it, although I’ve tried! He’s OK with working till he’s 70 and would use his previous automotive because the down fee and put down no extra money. 

I’m nervous if one thing occurs to him earlier than the brand new automotive is paid off. If he passes away and I’m not a co-signer, will that shield me? I don’t need the automotive, nor do I need the effort of making an attempt to promote it ought to he move. I’m additionally nervous about if he doesn’t move however wants a long-term facility or nursing house. 

How do I shield myself for my future? He has a number of well being issues, however so do I.

-Mrs. M.

Pricey Mrs. M.,

Your husband could also be approaching retirement age, however he must develop up already. A $60,000 automotive is one thing you purchase when your retirement accounts are plush and you’ve got little if any debt. However I do know I’m preaching to the choir.

To reply your query: The influence on you relies upon largely on what state you reside in. If you happen to dwell in one of many 41 states that comply with common-law property guidelines, you wouldn’t be accountable for the debt so long as your title isn’t on the mortgage. However within the different 9 states that comply with neighborhood property guidelines — Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin — every partner is equally accountable for any debt incurred through the marriage.


In a common-law state, in case your husband died owing cash on the automotive, each the automotive and the mortgage would develop into a part of his property. The property — particularly, whoever is the property’s executor — can be accountable for making funds out of your husband’s property throughout probate. 

Do you have to inherit the automotive alongside together with your husband’s different property, you would merely contact the lender and give up it. The lender might nonetheless file a declare in opposition to the property. However since your title received’t be on the mortgage, you wouldn’t be sued over the debt. Your credit score rating wouldn’t be affected. You could possibly do the identical factor in case your husband turns into disabled. Doing so would damage his credit score, nevertheless it wouldn’t have an effect on yours.

However for those who dwell in a neighborhood property state, the lender might sue you for the debt even for those who don’t co-sign. In case your husband doesn’t have ample life insurance coverage and incapacity insurance coverage that will let you cowl automotive funds, there’s an actual danger to your credit score and funds. 

No matter the place you reside, this buy is a horrible concept. Your husband might imagine his plan to work till 70 fixes all the pieces. However the actuality is, lots of people are pressured to retire sooner than they deliberate due to medical points or a job loss. That prospect is daunting, particularly given that you simply say his retirement plan is severely underfunded. The cash that your husband can be spending on a automotive fee must go towards catching up on retirement financial savings.

I do know you’ve tried to influence your husband to not make this buy. However I ponder if he could also be extra keen to take heed to a impartial third celebration. It is perhaps value hiring a fee-only monetary planner to evaluate your retirement planning and setting a particular financial savings purpose. Maybe your husband will see how a lot tougher reaching that focus on can be with substantial automotive funds.

If that doesn’t work, perhaps the 2 of you would attain a compromise. On the very least, might he maintain off on shopping for this automotive till you’ve paid off the bank card? That 0% rate of interest isn’t going to final perpetually. Paying off the stability earlier than it begins accruing curiosity is a should on this case. Provided that new automotive costs proceed to soar, your husband might also lower your expenses if he generally is a little affected person.

I’m afraid there’s nothing you are able to do in case your husband is actually decided to make this ridiculous buy. However hopefully, he’ll come round and see that no automotive is value placing your retirements in danger.

Robin Hartill is an authorized monetary planner and a senior author at The Penny Hoarder. Ship your tough cash inquiries to [email protected]


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