Two spouses file one bankruptcy case. They get one trustee, one case number, one meeting of creditors, etc. But they are still two separate people with two separate bankruptcy estates.
Here’s why it’s important. If someone dies within six months after a bankruptcy is filed, the inheritance is property of the bankruptcy estate. However, that inheritance can only be used to pay that person’s debts, and not the spouse’s debts (unless both are beneficiaries). Anything left over goes to the debtor.
Make no mistake about this. Judges mistate the rule and will deny the surplus to the debtor unless your attorney knows this. There’s confusion out there. Don’t be a victim.
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Last modified: February 9, 2013