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WIBU to ask DH to divorce his mother. Serious legal liability question.

(8 Posts)
milrelatednamechange Mon 07-Jan-13 14:58:47

Namechanged for this but am a regular. MN scarf, pombears, naice ham etc.

MIL moved to another EU country a few years ago and whilst there has got herself into a lot of financial difficulty. In fact she's never NOT been in financial difficulty so no change there.

Now very sadly she's recently been diagnosed with a serious illness and will have to spend some time in a care home and I have no idea how she can afford this. This has also got me thinking about when the inevitable happens as I know that she's many thousands of pounds in debt and I believe this country has a law which says that the heirs to the estate are liable for the deceased person's debt, even if the debt exceeds the value of the estate.

I am very seriously concerned that this might happen in our case and DH and SIL would be liable.

Our situation is that we're comfortable but that's because we live frugally and save. We no way have the ability to pay off MIL's debts and I don't see why we should either. We have 3 DC.

A friend joked that DH should divorce her as the only legal way to remove himself of liability. I've read about children doing that in the US (where else!) but can an adult do it? And can this country hound DH for his mum's debt? And WIBU to ask him to divorce his own mother?

Legal advice and views all welcome, thanks. I hasten to add we wouldn't stop seeing her or anything, we love her and all get on well. I'm just trying to protect my family's finances.

Nixea Mon 07-Jan-13 15:00:55

I think that divorcing your terminal ill mother would be a pretty aweful thing to even contemplate actually. YABVVU.

emsyj Mon 07-Jan-13 15:03:07

There was a thread about inheriting debts from an estate in a mainland European country on Money Matters a while ago - some posters on there said that you can disclaim your entitlement to avoid inheriting the debt.

I would take some formal legal advice from someone qualified in the jurisdiction in which your mother in law lives if you are worried. I am qualified in England & Wales but this rule doesn't exist here, you would need someone foreign qualified to advise you.

CheCazzo Mon 07-Jan-13 15:03:51

Ethics aside how would that even be enforceable from another country? Get legal advice not MN advice.

Paiviaso Mon 07-Jan-13 15:04:24

I think you need to get professional legal advice to see if this is actually a problem.

milrelatednamechange Mon 07-Jan-13 15:08:29

Thanks emsyj will look into that.

BelaLugosisShed Mon 07-Jan-13 15:09:35

No, you are not liable for paying a deceased persons debt if you are not named as a co-debtor. Any money a dead person leaves has a heirachy of debt payment, funeral and any tax due is top of the pile, anything else can pretty much whistle.
There is a good section on death expenses on the MSE website.

emsyj Mon 07-Jan-13 15:11:43

That is true in England and Wales Bela, but the situation regarding all issues relating to inheritance varies wildly across the world and there are European countries where debt can be passed on in this way.

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