Ask MoneySense: Debt responsibilities - MoneySense

Ask MoneySense: Debt responsibilities

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

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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.”

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