Many couples often wonder if they share responsibility for each other's debts. In most states the general rule is that all assets obtained during a marriage are joint property but responsibility for the debts of one spouse does not pass to the other spouse unless the debt was in the name of both parties.
Liability in Utah
In Utah, as a spouse, with some exceptions, as stipulated in the Utah State Code, Title 30, you cannot be held liable for debts incurred in your spouse's name unless the account is also in your name. In the case of medical bills, unless you signed a form, beforehand, declaring that you will accept responsibility in the case the bill is not paid, you cannot be forced to assume the debt.
Utah law has several exemptions and exceptions in place that cloud the issue of responsibility for medical debt or debt in general. One such exemption would come into play if one spouse incurs a medical bill and then the pair divorces. If a judge had determined during the divorce that both parties were liable for any debts incurred during the marriage, there is potential for a creditor to make a claim against the spouse.
Many married couple establish trusts to handle the affairs of their estate in the event of one or both of their deaths. Because the trust is considered a separate entity, any claims against the deceased have to made against the remaining estate. Utah law allows a creditor 120 days to file a claim against the estate once the court case is opened.
Should you as a spouse receive a claim or complaint for a suit regarding a medical bill or debt, it is important to consult an attorney. An attorney can prepare a proper response to avoid a default judgment being lodged.
Jessica McFall began writing professionally in 2011. She has authored legal briefs as a paralegal, specializing in insurance law and related litigation. McFall earned a Bachelor of Arts in political science from Cleveland State University.
Dynamic Graphics/Creatas/Getty Images