Ask MoneySense: Debt responsibilities

Married people are not responsible for the personal debts of their spouse but they aren’t in the clear either.



From the December/January 2013 issue of the magazine.


Q: Are spouses responsible for the independent debts of their partners, including their personal income tax debt?— S.A.

A: No, you are not responsible for the personal debts of your spouse. But that doesn’t mean you’re completely in the clear. If your partner declares bankruptcy, creditors and the Canada Revenue Agency can go after joint assets—like houses or bank accounts—to reclaim the debt, says Laurie Campbell, CEO of Credit Canada Debt Solutions.

If you’re considering putting assets in a partner’s name to avoid creditors, that won’t help, Campbell adds: it’s fraud. “If a debt haunts one, then it haunts the other. The bottom line is there must be open communication about the assets and debts you’re bringing into the relationship so the partner is not sidelined.”

2 comments on “Ask MoneySense: Debt responsibilities

  1. Also be careful of having joint debt. Being added onto an account like a credit card may have limited or no consequence, but signing a loan, line of credit or mortgage together makes you equally liable for the full amount.


  2. my mother-in law bought a car in july 2012 she was 65 years old and was told that she she would not be eligible for death insurance on the payments for the first two years . She just past a month ago. Is the immediate family responsible for the dept ? or do we just send it back to the creditor ? Oh ya this was in Quebec Canada.


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