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Added Feb 28 2017

My husband passed away in late 2014 and he had a couple of credit cards and at that thime those companies told me at the time I was NOT responsible for repaying because I was not a co-signer. Now i have received 1099's showing those written-off balances as income. Because we were married, do I have to claim those write-offs as income? Really need a tax professional or lawyer to weigh in on this. Thanks!

  • dj long time RP home owner


  • here's a well respected tax attorney:
    Robert E. McKenzie
    Arnstein & Lehr LLP
    120 South Riverside Plaza - Suite 1200
    Chicago, IL 60606
    (312) 876-6927

    If your income is under $30k annually, the Center for Economic Progress has a tax clinic with pro bono tax attorneys:

  • YakovBok In the RP since 1996

    Forgiven debt is considered income to the person/entity that has been forgiven. The IRS website has a nice explanation of 1099c's. You don't need a tax attorney. Any competent tax professional should be able to answer your question. The issue is, is it income to you as the heir, or income to the estate, and who is responsible for any subsequent tax liability, especially if the estate has already distributed its assets.

  • dj long time RP home owner

    The estate had o assets hence no probabte. These were credit card accounts that were kept secret from me and I cancelled them within 2 weeks of his death.

  • dj long time RP home owner

    An update. One fact I inadvertently omitted was that those 1099's were addressed to my late husband (he died 2 1/2 yrs ago). There was no estate, no assets to distribute. I consulted my lawyer and he said that since they were addressed to my late husband to ignore them, but to hold on to them.

  • Wazzup not available

    you got the advantages of those purchases - the least you can do is pay the income taxes. the vendor gets stiffed - but the taxpayers shouldn't have to pay for your enjoyment of your husbands purchases. He was your partner and you agreed to "for better or worse". You filed jointly -so you pay jointly.

  • Wazzup not available

    What the lawyer is saying is - wait and see if they use resources to sue. The surviving spouse is not given a free ride because her husband dies. They shared life, including debts. What bothers me the most is the wife's determination to stiff the suppliers. There is a moral compass problem here. Those debts should have been paid until the marriage cash and assets were exhausted - i can't believe he died and there was nothing in the joint bank account - no home, no retirement account, no real estate. the wife evidently has income - that should be used to pay the suppliers who provided credit in the good faith belief they would be repaid. :-( - this is an effort to "escape" joint marriage responsibility - "for better or worse" went down the tubes. Marriage bills are both their bills. Be fair and pay those vendors. Imagine if everyone did this! it would give new meaning to "hidden" assets. My sympathy to those vendors.

  • YakovBok In the RP since 1996

    The vendors are not getting "stiffed"in the sense that I think that you may be implying. By issuing a 1099c, the vendor "writes off" the debt, that is, it gets to reduce its tax liability. The issuing of a 1099c is a tax reduction strategy. Regarding the "joint debt" - it is not. It is only joint debt if it is both parties' names. It may be "marital debt," that is, part of the marital estate, but it is not "joint debt" in that they both owe it to the vendor. The contract is between the vendor and the deceased, not the vendor and husband and wife. You will never successfully argue "third party beneficiary" in a credit card case. The deceased not paying back the debt is the inherent risk of issuing easy credit, i.e., credit card bills, and why the interest rates are so high.

  • Sarahdonis Nearly 30 years in Edgewater; love RP & A'ville

    People who live in glass moral compasses shouldn't throw stones!
    You "can't believe he died and there was nothing in the joint bank account - no home, no retirement account, no real estate. the wife evidently has income...."
    Are YOU really so unaware of the world around you that you have no notion of less fortunate people than you? The last time I remember reading about it, only half of Americans aged 55-64 had retirement accounts. dj said the estate had 0 assets, and that these credit cards were kept secret from her. Are you suggesting she wash dishes to pay her cheating husband's bad debts?

  • dj long time RP home owner

    My lawyer said I am not responsible for my late husband's debts, even the credit card companies told me so when I cancelled them. They were not joint accounts, My lawyer told me to ignore those 1099s addressed to that late husband. End of story.

  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff because it is a personal attack.
  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff because it is a personal attack.
  • This comment has been removed by EveryBlock staff because it is off topic.
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