Is a husband liable for his wife's debts (or vice versa), Part 2?

Recently, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals decided a case (Key Equipment Finance, Inc. v. Overend) that causes us to revisit the question of spousal liability. We care because the 11th Circuit (a federal appeals court) covers Georgia, and the case involved a question of Georgia law.

George Overend borrowed money from KeyBank to finance the construction of a medical imaging center. After he borrowed money, he transferred a one-half interest in his home to his wife's revocable trust. Overend's business venture went bankrupt, and when KeyBank tried to collect it's money, KeyBank argued that it could set-aside the homeplace transfer as a fraudlent conveyance.

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Is a husband liable for his wife’s debt (or vice versa)?

Many families assume that one spouse is liable for the other’s debt. In Georgia, that’s typically not the case. O.C.G.A. § 19-3-9 specifically provides that the separate property of each spouse shall remain the separate property of that spouse, except in limited circumstances.

In Walton Elect. Membership Corp. v. Snyder, 226 Ga. App. 673 (1997), a creditor attempted to collect from one spouse a debt owed by the other. Specifically, Deborah Patton had a contract with Walton Electric to provide electricity. Later, she moved in with Howard Snyder, who also had his own contract with Walton Electric. When Howard and Deborah got married, Deborah had an unpaid, past due balance with Walton Electric. After Walton Electric discovered Howard and Deborah were married, it added Deborah’s past due bill to Howard’s account. Howard objected and refused to pay the bill. Walton Electric then disconnected Howard’s power, so Howard sued. In finding that Howard was right, and that he was not liable for Deborah’s debt, the Georgia Court of Appeals cited to O.C.G.A. § 13-5-30. There, Georgia law provides that a promise to answer for another’s debt must be in writing, and signed by the person undertaking the debt. Further, in the Snyder case, the Court found that the contract must be an original obligation. What is that important? Walton Electric tried to claim that Howard signed a membership agreement when he joined Walton Electric. Ordinarily, if a married couple joins, they become joint members. However, Howard joined Walton Electric as a single person and Walton Electric was not authorized to unilaterally change the agreement just because he was married. To create a joint obligation, a new contract, with new consideration, would be required if Howard was to become liable for Deborah’s debt.

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Social Security Increase payments by .03% for 2017

Woo-hoo!!! Social Security has increased its payments for 2017 by --- wait for it --- .03% for 2017. That means someone who was on SSI and received $733 per month in 2016 will receive a $2 per month increase in 2017. With monthly benefits soaring to $735 per month, we remind you "don't spend it all in one place!" Meanwhile, the payroll amount subject to Social Security taxes has increased to $127,200.

http://blog.ssa.gov/an-increase-in-social-security-benefits-in-2017/

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Wages for Home Care Aides Lag as Demand Grows

"Home care aides, mostly women and mostly minorities, represent one of the nation’s fastest-growing occupations, increasing from 700,000 to more than 1.4 million over the past decade. Add the independent caregivers that clients employ directly through public programs, and the total rises to more than two million." Unfortunately, wages have been stagnant. One can only speculate regarding what this means as more Americans are living beyond their health. Beyond the wage issue, there is a labor capacity issue. Americans are aging at a rate that outpaces our ability to provide care AND fill other higher paying jobs. The immigration debate, which is front and center in this year's election, ignores the reality that American will either need to import labor to address it's long-term care needs, or we might need to begin exporting our elderly so they can get care.

P. Span, Wages for Home Care Aides Lag as Demand Grows, http://www.nytimes.com/2016/09/27/health/home-care-aides-wages.html?_r=0

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What is it like to live in a retirement community?

A recent article published by the Huffinton Post explores what it's like to life in a retirment community. In the article, the write states "Studies have shown that people who live in retirement communities are healthier and live longer than people isolated in their own home."

N. Josefowitx, What is it like to live in a retirement community, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/dr-natasha-josefowitz/what-is-it-like-to-live-i_2_b_12201136.html

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