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No contact..kids say his dementia worse. He will not let kids help him with finances or daily living. One of the kids found out he's way behind in his rent and I'm fairly sure based on past experience that he's in debt way beyond that. I'm worried if he goes under and is not mentally competent to resolve it that his creditors will expect me to pay. I'm 72 with one heart attack still trying to work and take care of myself and am so afraid of what might happen.

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Your questions are serious enough that it is well worth an hour of Lawyer time in the state you live in the find the answers. Just to be very safe.
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Reply to AlvaDeer
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Ok, I am alarmed. I would most certainly (and right away) find someone in family law for the state that you live in. Especially if you are in the community property states of Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. I would definitely not depend on creditors not being able to find you (they will). Also this is a "legal" question and not a "what is fair" question so it doesn't matter what seems "fair". Do it now.
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Reply to snowquail
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Asking us this type of question will get you maybe some right answers and also wrong answers. The right answer is to call a lawyer, spend a half hour with him/her and ask the same question.
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Reply to scadvice
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Inherited assets are not community property.

That you have 25 years of separate tax returns with different addresses shows that you were not together.

Can you call around and find attorneys that offer free consultations and go talk to them? You can go to www.nelf.org to find certified elder law attorneys in your area.

I would not stress about being responsible for his debt. You don't have to pay, even if they try to collect you tell them you haven't been together for 25 years and you are not responsible. I would do a form letter that states you have not been together and you are not responsible for his bills and you will not be speaking with them about his debt and you will consider any further contact as harrassment. Then send that letter as a follow up to the call. Send the letter certified mail so you have proof that it was received. Be sure and get the full name of the individual you are speaking with and a company phone number, then call the company and get a name and address for an executive that will receive the letter.

Please try to not get stressed out about this. It will be okay. They may never contact you, how would they have your number? Tell everyone not to mention your name and not to give out your information. Don't get involved with him or his care, you are separated and it needs to stay that way.

I wouldn't change anything about the status of the separation, it puts you on the radar and that is the last thing you want. As far as you know after a certain amount of time you are legally separated, no filings required. A legal separation at this point would only prevent them from coming after you from the date of the separation, right now you haven't been involved for 25 years, please don't change that.
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Reply to Isthisrealyreal
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disgustedtoo Sep 22, 2019
While it is still best not to give out any information, do be aware that there are ways they can find you. It is sometimes called skip tracing, for people who have criminal issues, BUT collections WILL use that too. My former DIL was never on my deed or accounts. Because they lived with me for some time before and after losing their house, I did get at least one call regarding a medical bill after they split. I told them she isn't related to me, doesn't live with me and I have no idea where she is. I was one of the lucky ones who didn't get on the harassment train!

Try looking yourself up online. Often the results will list "associates", aka family members, people who lived with you, etc. Some even list age (and this is the FREE information - if they pay, they get a lot more info. The info is NOT based on any criminal activity, it is one of the down sides to the internet.) It isn't hard for creditors/collections to find anyone who is a past associate. I am NOT saying she would be responsible, just be aware that they might find you and ask for payment. Having legal backup will be a must. There are some attorneys out there who will help for little or no cost, based on income, it just might take some effort to find them.

Although it would be good to have a letter prepared, it might be better to have it sent (or have it drafted by/sent) from an attorney.
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Have you looked at your credit report lately? That's the best way to see what debts may be showing up in your name. You're entitled to one free report per year from each of the three major credit reporting agencies.

If you are in the US, go directly to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports for information and a link to the truly free credit report service. Read the entire page, including the FAQs, before ordering your report(s). There are many pretenders out there, and some ask for a credit card before ordering, so it's best to use the link from the FTC page.

Once you know what's hanging out there in your name, you'll get a better idea of how to proceed. Good luck.
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Reply to PeeWee57
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Is there a reason why you never got divorced, religious or something? Did you get a Legal Separation? At the very least, I would get an immediate Legal Separation, and hope that it does give you some financial protection from your ex's debts.
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Reply to staceyb2
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My parents separated but never divorced. My mother passed first.
When he passed, their house became property of the State of New York unless I paid off his debts. I paid.
True story.
Please check if you own anything jointly and get legal advise.
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Reply to Mg6742
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Good advice given so far, because the answer varies state to state and it is a serious legal question. In Maryland where we live, the answer is YES. One of the first thing our lawyer did was to advise me to pay off the debt asap to bring his assets down to be eligible for Medicaid which has an 8-10 yr wait. (Min wait is 5 yrs.). But once the debt is paid off, your assets are still his because you are not divorced. Seek legal help now.
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Reply to Worriedspouse
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Sounds like you need to talk with a lawyer.
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Reply to NoTryDoYoda
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As far as I know, if your name is on anything yes. If not no. Doesn't matter if you are together of not. Co signers are responsible for someone else's debt. If you see to it to make sure your name is not on anything, including bank accounts, you are free & clear. My husband pulled some shady things, buying a trailer home, without my name on it. When he landed in a medical building & he wasn't around to pay the bills, they came after me. The were breaking the law, because they would tell me nothing, because my name wasn't on the deed, but expected me to pay. No name, no responsibility. If your name is on anything, you are responsible, so be sure to check on that to be safe.
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Reply to Angelika1947
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disgustedtoo Sep 22, 2019
Absolutely ensure your name is NOT on anything. Going online to get your free credit reports from all three agencies might be a good idea, just to be sure there isn't still something out there with joint ownership.

While you can stand your ground, it won't stop them from trying. Legal help might be needed if they harass. Creditors might not, but they sell debt to collectors and many of them have no qualms or conscience about harassing you! I still suggest OP find an attorney who can help, either pro bono or sliding scale based on income. A letter from an attorney can be more helpful than just saying no.
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