Is the wife responsible for her husband’s debts after his death?

Is the wife responsible for her husband’s debts after his death?

Losing a loved one is a difficult experience, but while being in mourning, one should not forget about the necessity to settle numerous formal issues.

There are many doubts about the inheritance of the deceased and who is obliged to pay debts from him. What happens to outstanding obligations after the spouse’s death, and how do you avoid having to pay them back?

When do debts pass to the family?

When do debts pass to the family?

After the death of her husband, the wife is obliged to pay the debt, even if it was incurred before the wedding. However, this is not so obvious, because everything depends on the course of the succession. Statutory inheritance means that after the death of her husband, her wife and children first inherit.

The estate includes not only accumulated property of the deceased, but also debts. However, it should be remembered that this scheme will not apply if a will has been made. He has priority over statutory inheritance and the succession case is carried out on its basis.

Who repays the spouse’s debts?

The heirs are obliged to repay the debt if any when accepting the estate. Interestingly, even if there was a material separation between the spouses, it does not matter for inheritance. After accepting the inheritance, the wife is also obliged to pay debts before the wedding, as well as obligations of which she did not know. In addition, there are several problematic cases who pays:

  • Maintenance debts – heirs are obliged to repay them, and in the case of debts to the Maintenance Fund, they expire when the debtor dies.
  • Debts long after divorce – when the divorce was the fault of the wife, after the death of the testator she is excluded from the inheritance of both property and debts.
  • Debts in ZUS – they are inherited and the heirs are responsible for their repayment.

Inheritance is not always associated with inheritance of assets, as the obligation to pay debts must also be taken into account. How to prevent this?

How not to inherit?


The only way to avoid paying back the debt is to decline the inheritance. This can be done within a maximum of six months of becoming aware of death by submitting an application to the court or notary. However, it should be remembered that when the estate is rejected, the deceased’s right to property is also lost.

How to check your spouse?

All obligations of the deceased are available in the databases of Credit Checker debtors. Unfortunately, access to the spouse’s register can only be obtained after presenting a declaration of acceptance of the inheritance. The only way to find out about any debts is to apply to the court for a bailiff’s inventory.

Then the property of the deceased is assessed along with the debts that are part of the estate. In this way, you can avoid paying your debts by rejecting your inheritance within the statutory deadline.


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