Will my spouses stocks be applicable to a judgment against me? 24 Answers as of December 20, 2013

I have no personal assets, and income well below means test, but bankruptcy is not an option as my wife has stocks she received from her grandfather several years ago, which are of a value greater than my debt. Would her stocks be applicable to a judgment in the future against me, were I to be sued by my creditors (credit card companies)? Her account has always stayed in her name and she has never sold any stocks for cash.

Ask a Local Attorney. 100% Anonymous. Free Answers.

Free Case Evaluation by a Local Lawyer: Click here
Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson
Law Office of Lynnmarie A. Johnson | Lynnmarie Johnson
Not if the debt is in your name only.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 12/20/2013
Law Office of Mark B. French
Law Office of Mark B. French | Mark B. French
If you and your wife were married and residents of Texas at all times since she inherited the stock then the stock would be her separate property. Your credit card debts would be liabilities based on contract. Creditors with claims based on contracts would not be able to seize your wife's separate property. Based on this information, your wife's stocks would be safe from creditors based on your credit cards. Note that if you are depositing the dividends from those stocks into a joint bank account then the funds in that account (including the dividends) would be available to your credit card based creditors.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 12/20/2013
David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law
David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law | David R. Fondren
If the stocks are not in your name and have never been in your name, your creditors that are yours alone cannot reach them. To the extent you have joint debts, they can go after joint property. Same with the Trustee. By the way, joint debts include all medical and hospital bills.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 12/20/2013
Michael B. McFarland, P.A. | Michael B. McFarland
In Idaho, an inheritance is generally the separate property of the recipient (as opposed to community property, which is within the reach of creditors of either spouse). Other states, of course, have different rules. You should consult with an experienced bankruptcy attorney in your area to determine what the law is there. Your wife might also consult with an estate planning attorney, or one who is knowledgeable about asset protection under the laws of your state.
Answer Applies to: Idaho
Replied: 12/20/2013
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
Several things to consider: You do not say where you live. 1) Some states are community property states, which means that debts incurred during the course of the marriage are presumably debts of the marital community. If so, and your wife is names as a co-defendant in any law suit filed by a creditor, then yes, her stocks could potentially be reached to satisfy the debt. Such being the case, we would have to see how the summons and complaint read. 2) Have her stocks, which are arguably her separate property, been, in any way, co-mingled with joint assets, such that the stocks, or proceeds there from, lost their separate identity? If so, then they could possibly be attached by creditors. As long as the stocks are separate and have always been separate, and the separation is easily documented, she should be ok. Please understand that THESE ARE GENERALITIES. Such being the case, I would advise you to speak with a bankruptcy attorney who can more thoroughly examine your financial situation.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 12/20/2013
    A Fresh Start
    A Fresh Start | Dorothy G Bunce
    Your Wife's separate assets would only be vulnerable to a judgment against you if she is named as a party to these judgments.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 12/20/2013
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    In a community property state such as California those would be her separate property and not available to pay your debts. The fact that she has them must be disclosed and trustee will probably want to see the paper work on the transfer. You should consult with a competent lawyer.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/20/2013
    Law Office of Shawn N. Wright | Shawn N. Wright
    If her stocks are in her name, and you are not a joint account-holder, then you would not be required to disclose the existence of these stocks to the Bankruptcy Court. Those are her property, and not yours, under bankruptcy law, and under creditor law as well, in Pennsylvania. So, you could file a bankruptcy case and discharge (wipe out) this judgment.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 12/19/2013
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC
    The Law Office of Darren Aronow, PC | Darren Aronow
    A judgment against you can not get to her stocks.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/19/2013
    Hayward, Parker, O'Leary & Pinsky, Esqs.
    Hayward, Parker, O'Leary & Pinsky, Esqs. | Michael O'Leary
    Preliminary, you can file a bankruptcy in your name only; your wife does not have to file jointly with you. If you file by yourself, your wife's income will have to be included in both your Means Test budget and regular bankruptcy budget, but assets solely titled only in your wife's name do not have to be listed in your bankruptcy petition. Of course, debts owed by your wife, either individually or jointly with you, would not be discharged by your solo filing. You should probably discuss this option with competent, local bankruptcy counsel. If you elect to not file on your own, a judgment creditor can only collect against your assets (and not your wife's), assuming you have not fraudulently transferred assets to your spouse. With the history that you present, your creditors would not be able to collect your debts from your wife's stock portfolio.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/19/2013
    The Law Office of M Grater LLC
    The Law Office of M Grater LLC | Mark O. Grater
    If your wife doesn't file, then they can't come after her stocks. If only you file the only thing that counts toward you is her income, not possessions in her name.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 12/19/2013
    Robert B. Cherry PC | Robert B. Cherry, Esq.
    I do not practice bankruptcy law, and therefore I am NOT confident to answer the question.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/19/2013
    Law Offices of David H. Relkin
    Law Offices of David H. Relkin | David H. Relkin
    The answer to this question is fairly simple. Since the stocks remained.in your wife's name and were not combined with your property, your creditors would not have the ability to attach them. I am giving this advice based on New York law and especially excluding any community property states. The result with me that whatever assets you have would be distributed to your creditors based upon a percentage and you would receive, most likely assuming all things being equal, a discharge of your liabilities and you and your wife the pains of poverty. You need an attorney to help you through this process and you can contact my office for a free consultation.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/19/2013
    Goldsmith & Guymon
    Goldsmith & Guymon | Marjorie Guymon
    If she inherited the stock then it does not come into bk nor is it available to your creditors. It is her separate property.
    Answer Applies to: Nevada
    Replied: 12/19/2013
    Danville Law Group | Scott Jordan
    First of all, your wife's stocks would not be an issue in bankruptcy if your were to file alone, unless she is also a debtor on those credit card accounts. Bankruptcy might still be an option and you should consult with a local bankruptcy attorney for more specific advice. To answer your question, the stocks could be attached if the creditor's obtain judgments against you. It is complicated and her separate assets would be the last item they could attack.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2013
    Havkin & Shrago | Stella Havkin
    No. It is your wife's separate property.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2013
    Kenneth A. Parker, P.C.
    Kenneth A. Parker, P.C. | Ken Parker
    Unless you live in a community property state, creditors cannot attach your spouses assets for your debts. Georgia is not a community property state. You may still be eligible to file bankruptcy if her assets have always been separate from yours.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/16/2013
    LAW OFFICE OF DAVID A. KUBAT
    LAW OFFICE OF DAVID A. KUBAT | DAVID A. KUBAT
    Yours is a tricky question to answer, because of community property law in Washington. If the stock your wife inherited is still in the form she received it, and has not been cashed in or any proceeds put in her bank account (or a joint bank account), then chances are her stock will still be considered her separate property. However, the problem is that your credit card debts are probably joint debts under community property law, so that any creditors that sued you would sue both of you. Once they got a judgment against your wife, her stock would be available to the creditors. You might want to consider filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy. It would have the following advantages: 1. If you filed jointly, all unsecured community property debts would be removed by the bankruptcy. 2. Your wife's stocks would not be taken from her. 3. Even if you ended up paying your unsecured creditors 100% in the Chapter 13, you would still be better off than dealing with them outside the bankruptcy. First of all, the balance on each debt would be frozen at the time you filed the bankruptcy, so your debt couldn't get any larger. Second, you would pay only those creditors who file claims in the Chapter 13 (there are always some who don't file, and don't have to be paid). Third, if you pay 100%, your interest to each creditor who files a claim will be less than 1/2 of 1%. If you end up paying less than 100% to the creditors who file claims, you will not pay any interest. Outside of bankruptcy, your debt keeps increasing, because most of your monthly payment goes to interest, so you end up paying your creditors twice what you owe them, or more, and it takes a long time to pay them off.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/16/2013
    Law Offices of John F. Nicholson
    Law Offices of John F. Nicholson | John F. Nicholson
    As your spouse the creditors can go after her for payment, and if you file a bankruptcy they will home-in on her solely. Although I don't have all of the facts, a bankruptcy is not the answer to your financial woes. If you retain an attorney it is possible to make a deal on your debts and have an agreement to pay a lesser amount.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2013
    Patrick W. Currin, Attorney at Law | Patrick Currin
    From what you are telling me, the stocks would be deemed separate property and hence not included in your BK (although they should be in the filing as such).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2013
    Charles Regan Shaw, PLC
    Charles Regan Shaw, PLC | Charles R Shaw
    Based on your fact set, your spouse's stocks would not be available to YOUR judgement creditors. You indicate you are not an owner on those stocks, so they are not your asset. Note, your fact set also assumes she is not a co signer or co debtor on any of your debts.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/16/2013
    Marc S. Stern
    Marc S. Stern | Marc S. Stern
    If she is named in any of the lawsuits, she needs to defend. Failure to defend may maker and her separate assets liable for your debts.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/16/2013
    Lynch Law Offices, P.C. | Roseanne N. Lynch
    That is a difficult question to answer without a few more details such as the nature of the debts you have. It may be that you could file a Bankruptcy and not include your wife, unless she is on the debt also. There may also be some exemptions available to her in the event that there was a judgment taken against both of you. In general, if the judgment is against one spouse the sole assets of the other spouse cannot be touched but there are so many exceptions to that general rule that it would require a consultation with an attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/16/2013
    Steven Alpers | Steven Alpers
    Unless the two of you divorce. Maybe you could make some agreement with the creditors to accept partial payments.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/16/2013
Click to View More Answers:
12 3 4 5 Free Legal QuestionsConnect with a local attorney