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Am I Accountable for My Husband’s $60K Automobile 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 primary wants, however his retirement is severely underfunded.

We needed to dig out of debt not too long ago and are down to 1 zero-interest bank card we nonetheless owe about $18,000 on. Our residence might be paid off in about 4 years, and I ship $300 additional every month. 

My husband could 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 anxious 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 defend me? I don’t need the automotive, nor do I would like the trouble of making an attempt to promote it ought to he cross. I’m additionally anxious about if he doesn’t cross however wants a long-term facility or nursing residence. 

How do I defend myself for my future? He has a number of well being considerations, 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. In case you reside in one of many 41 states that observe common-law property guidelines, you wouldn’t be answerable for the debt so long as your title isn’t on the mortgage. However within the different 9 states that observe neighborhood property guidelines — Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington and Wisconsin — every partner is equally accountable for any debt incurred throughout the marriage.


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

Do you have to inherit the automotive alongside together with your husband’s different property, you could possibly merely contact the lender and give up it. The lender may nonetheless file a declare in opposition to the property. However since your title gained’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 when you reside in a neighborhood property state, the lender may sue you for the debt even when you don’t co-sign. In case your husband doesn’t have ample life insurance coverage and incapacity insurance coverage that will permit you to cowl automotive funds, there’s an actual threat to your credit score and funds. 

No matter the place you reside, this buy is a horrible thought. Your husband might imagine his plan to work till 70 fixes every little thing. However the actuality is, lots of people are compelled to retire sooner than they deliberate due to medical points or a job loss. That prospect is daunting, particularly given that you just say his retirement plan is severely underfunded. The cash that your husband could 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 occasion. It is perhaps price hiring a fee-only monetary planner to evaluate your retirement planning and setting a selected financial savings purpose. Maybe your husband will see how a lot tougher reaching that concentrate on could be with substantial automotive funds.

If that doesn’t work, perhaps the 2 of you could possibly attain a compromise. On the very least, may 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 without end. 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 can also get monetary savings if he could be a little affected person.

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

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


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