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My wife recently passed in our home in Kansas. Am I responsible for her own medical bills and her own credit card debt

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  • Did she leave a will? Have you applied for probate?
    – user35069
    Mar 1, 2023 at 22:33
  • No will. Everything goes to me being her husband
    – Chuck
    Mar 1, 2023 at 23:48

1 Answer 1

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In Kansas and other states that are not community property states, the sole debts of someone who dies are the responsibility of that person's probate estate, but are not the responsibility of their surviving spouse.

So, with regard to the credit card debt, if the spouse did not co-sign the card or make purchases with the cars, the surviving spouse is not responsible for the debt beyond assets in the name of the decedent spouse in the spouse's probate estate (unless the "necessities doctrine applies).

In the case of medical debt, if the surviving spouse was not a guarantor for the deceased spouse there should not be liability on that debt beyond the assets of the probate estate either. But Medicaid estate recovery claims also apply to certain assets owned by the decedent spouse that would otherwise have passed outside of the probate estate with a beneficiary designation.

Also as noted in a 2019 answer at this site:

Kansas recognizes the doctrine of necessaries, under which a spouse can be held liable when the other spouse obtains necessary items, like food or medical care, on credit.

See also St. Francis Regional Med. Center, Inc. v. Bowles for support that the doctrine survives in Kansas.

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