Attempting to collect old debt from late spouse

by Jack
(Bradenton, Fl.)

My wife has some debt due from when she and her late husband were in business. When her husband became ill, the business failed and the rest is history as to speak.

She now receives only his social security allowance which is approximately 780.00 per month.

She has the check direct deposited into my account which I had previous to our marriage and it only bear my name and social security number. She is nowhere on the account. Further, she owns absolutely no assets as would be considered tangible.

My question is simply this. Can a order of judgement be levied against my sole checking account?

Reply from

We can't give you legal advice, but would like to share a few thoughts.

Florida is not a community property state, so you should not be responsible for your wife's individual debts. (Even in a community property state, debts incurred by a spouse prior to the marriage are not typically considered community property.)

Social Security income is typically safe from creditors. However, mingling Social Security funds with other funds in a joint account is risky. (We're not sure what happens when you keep her name off the account and simply deposit the money. We aren't sure whether that's something a creditor could trace.)

Business debt is not covered by the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act, so if these are business debts, your wife may not have the same protections she would have if these were personal debts.

Have you thought about talking with a bankruptcy attorney to find out whether she can file to put these debts behind her? It may be possible for her to file individually.

Finally, you say these are old debts. If they are quite old, it may be possible that the statute of limitations has expired. That would be a good question for you to ask a bankruptcy attorney.

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