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  #1  
Old 12-21-2009, 06:00 AM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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"I will not be responsible for debts incurred by anyone other than myself" - what is the purpose?

Sometimes I see notices similar (if not verbatim) to the above in the legal notices section of a US newspaper - it is then followed by someone's personal details.

What does giving this notice do for someone? It stands to reason that it must have some legal purpose (or purported legal purpose), or else people would not spend money to publish in a section almost nobody reads.

A friend and I were talking about this - I speculated that it had something to do with identity theft victims giving notice of their victim status (perhaps to aid in prosecution if the id thief continues to charge in the name, as a claim of consent would be weaker, or perhaps it is to let potential creditors beware - "hey, if someone wants credit and claims to be me, you'd better be pretty sure it's me, cuz if it's not me, I'm not responsible for what happens, and I'm not paying"). She thought it had something to do with pending divorces. I suppose if the divorce thing is correct, the notice is intended to stop the creation of joint debts, etc. - so as to prevent your spouse from running up huge bills before your divorce goes through, leaving you responsible as a joint debtor. She said that the legal utility of this statement is dubious.

Neither of us are attorneys and this obviously is not a request for legal advice.

Last edited by robert_columbia; 12-21-2009 at 06:04 AM..
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  #2  
Old 12-21-2009, 06:20 AM
UncleFred UncleFred is offline
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I know at one time it was a standard practice, sort of a pre-emptive strike, when a married couple was splitting up, and "A" didn't want to be saddled with debts incurred by "B" in "A's" name. I don't think it had any direct legal effect, but could be used later to document "A's" intentions and seriousness.
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Old 12-21-2009, 01:04 PM
Polycarp Polycarp is offline
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It's giving legal notice that the person who contracted for the ad will no longer be responsible for bills incurred by someone else, for whose debts he or she had previously had in some way felt responsible. The most common usage is when a couple breaks up: the merchant who may have extend the notice-maker's spouse credit expecting payment from the notice-maker has now been given notice to the contrary. It of course does not bind as against a court judgment, but it does show intent and provides evidence of an effort to give persons who might be harmed proper notice.
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Old 12-21-2009, 02:51 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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I have a legal self-help book from 1970. Men who were seperating or divorcing their wives used to have to publish a notice in the local papers to stop local merchants from extending credit to their wives (& leaving the husband liable for the bill). This was when it was next to impossible for married women to get credit on their own.

Last edited by alphaboi867; 12-21-2009 at 02:52 PM..
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Old 12-21-2009, 08:41 PM
sweetie pea sweetie pea is offline
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I used to have a 40's-50's era etiquette book, and while I don't recall the title or author I do remember there being a section on disolution of marriage and how both parties should behave. For one thing, angry letters should not be written on old hotel stationery, and for another, those unfortunate newspaper notices were in very poor taste.





Yes, it was written by a woman.
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  #6  
Old 12-22-2009, 07:34 AM
Sigmagirl Sigmagirl is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by UncleFred View Post
I know at one time it was a standard practice, sort of a pre-emptive strike, when a married couple was splitting up, and "A" didn't want to be saddled with debts incurred by "B" in "A's" name. I don't think it had any direct legal effect, but could be used later to document "A's" intentions and seriousness.
This is it. At the newspaper where I used to work, people -- mostly men, but some women too -- were constantly calling and coming in to place these ads. They often would ask for advice, as if the staff were qualified (and interested) to give it. Some staffers cared enough to ask the advertisers if they were placing the ads on the advice of their lawyers, but of course it always turned out they thought the ads were their own idea.

What was really funny was that they thought they could be billed for the ads. Yeah, right.
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  #7  
Old 05-31-2013, 08:11 PM
Evylikechevy Evylikechevy is offline
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Debts

I'm an attorney. There is no reason. It has no effect. Rules for liability for debt are statutory and contractual..
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  #8  
Old 05-31-2013, 09:32 PM
tracer tracer is offline
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Originally Posted by Polycarp View Post
... provides evidence of an effort to give persons who might be harmed proper notice.
But who the heck reads newspapers any more?

Other than fans of Mary Worth, I mean.
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  #9  
Old 05-31-2013, 10:47 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
...I speculated that it had something to do with identity theft...
A young fellow, eh? This type of notice was around for decades before anyone ever thought of, much less heard, the phrase "identity theft."
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  #10  
Old 06-01-2013, 10:10 AM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Originally Posted by Evylikechevy View Post
I'm an attorney. There is no reason. It has no effect. Rules for liability for debt are statutory and contractual..
Welcome to the Boards, Evylikechevy.
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  #11  
Old 06-01-2013, 11:21 PM
Senegoid Senegoid is online now
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I remember seeing those notices when in my larval days (1960's). It was always worded thus:
Quote:
NOT responsible for any debts but my own.
/s/ [name]
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  #12  
Old 06-01-2013, 11:47 PM
jtur88 jtur88 is offline
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It's similar to the "ignorance of the law" doctrine. If a fact is published in a newspaper as an official notice, any person can be held to be aware of it as a matter of public record, and someone who grants crediit to a person on the assumption that you will be responsible for it can be shown to be ignorant of the fact that you have absolved yourself of any such responsibility.

In fact, it probably had no power, but creditors faced with that defense were often unwilling to risk their day in court.

The fact is that most states are community property states, and a married couple is considered jointly responsible for all their liabilities as long as they are legally married. However, they are not necessarily equally responsible, and a divorce settlement judge may (butr doesn't have to) take such a newspaper notice into account in dividing the liabilities of a divorcing couple.
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  #13  
Old 06-02-2013, 04:30 AM
Alley Dweller Alley Dweller is offline
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Originally Posted by jtur88 View Post
The fact is that most states are community property states, and a married couple is considered jointly responsible for all their liabilities as long as they are legally married. However, they are not necessarily equally responsible, and a divorce settlement judge may (butr doesn't have to) take such a newspaper notice into account in dividing the liabilities of a divorcing couple.
In the United States only nine states are community property states:
Arizona
California
Idaho
Louisiana
Nevada
New Mexico
Texas
Washington
Wisconsin

Alaska is an optional community property state.

Last edited by Alley Dweller; 06-02-2013 at 04:30 AM..
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  #14  
Old 06-02-2013, 11:10 AM
Nanoda Nanoda is offline
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Reminds me a bit of some of those stories I hear about wacky US tax "protesters" (the ones that insist their name is misspelled when in all-caps, etc). Sounds about their speed.
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Old 06-06-2013, 05:41 PM
tracer tracer is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nanoda View Post
Reminds me a bit of some of those stories I hear about wacky US tax "protesters" (the ones that insist their name is misspelled when in all-caps, etc). Sounds about their speed.
Don't forget to put "without prejudice UCC 1-207)" in front of your signature, and put your ZIP code in square brackets!
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Old 06-06-2013, 05:43 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Originally Posted by tracer View Post
Don't forget to put "without prejudice UCC 1-207)" in front of your signature, and put your ZIP code in square brackets!
I heard that citing NCC-1701 works every time.
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  #17  
Old 06-06-2013, 05:57 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
I heard that citing NCC-1701 works every time.
Refused for tribbles without disruptors.
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  #18  
Old 06-06-2013, 07:30 PM
Ludovic Ludovic is offline
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Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
I heard that citing NCC-1701 works every time.
But only the most enterprising tax evaders know about it.
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  #19  
Old 06-06-2013, 07:33 PM
drachillix drachillix is offline
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Originally Posted by Muffin View Post
I heard that citing NCC-1701 works every time.
Only for fools, and children.
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  #20  
Old 06-07-2013, 11:44 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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Originally Posted by Evylikechevy View Post
I'm an attorney. There is no reason. It has no effect. Rules for liability for debt are statutory and contractual..
Was it always so?

My understanding was that it was for marraige breakups, and occasionally other such diassociations like kicking the adult kids out of the house, or dissolution of a business partnership. Believe it or not, once upon a time, especially in small towns, a lot of merchants would allow credit for apparently creditworthy customers, and many debts were settled with personal cheques - i.e. a lot of commerce was done on faith.

The newspaper ad was due to the fact that publishing a notice in a widely circulated paper (they used to be, too) was the equivalent of making sure everyone knew - sort of like posting a notice in the town square.

The same sort of notices were IIRC required for other legal business, like bankruptcy and estate settlement announcements?
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Old 06-07-2013, 12:45 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
The same sort of notices were IIRC required for other legal business, like bankruptcy and estate settlement announcements?
It is a different reason: to alert creditors that they must get their claims in on time.
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  #22  
Old 06-07-2013, 01:52 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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In fact, wasn't "placing a notice in a widely circulated publication" a standard practice legal requirement for some legal notices?
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Old 06-07-2013, 02:05 PM
Muffin Muffin is offline
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Yup.
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  #24  
Old 08-31-2013, 09:46 AM
lifedreamer lifedreamer is offline
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Death and legal notice

Really need help. I have a cousin whos husband was killed in an automobile accident and she is a mess so I am trying to help but I have NO legal knowledge. She also remembers these "notices" in newspapers. Her question is do these notices hold any legal help in a death situation. Her husband had dealing with another woman who is trying to get ahold of his life insurance. They were still legally married. She has never worked and he took care of her for over 25 years so basically she has no money to fight the other party. ANY help would be deeply appreciated!
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  #25  
Old 08-31-2013, 09:57 AM
Amateur Barbarian Amateur Barbarian is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lifedreamer View Post
Really need help. I have a cousin whos husband was killed in an automobile accident and she is a mess so I am trying to help but I have NO legal knowledge. She also remembers these "notices" in newspapers. Her question is do these notices hold any legal help in a death situation. Her husband had dealing with another woman who is trying to get ahold of his life insurance. They were still legally married. She has never worked and he took care of her for over 25 years so basically she has no money to fight the other party. ANY help would be deeply appreciated!
The help your cousin needs will be found under "Legal Assistance" in the yellow pages.

The life insurance should have a specified beneficiary; if it's this Other Woman, your cousin is screwed. If it's not, the insurance company should provide legal advice and assistance to protect the named beneficiary.

But it's a job for a lawyer in any case. Possibly one who will take the case contingent on payment from the insurance settlement.

Last edited by Amateur Barbarian; 08-31-2013 at 09:59 AM..
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  #26  
Old 08-31-2013, 10:07 AM
The Niply Elder The Niply Elder is online now
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I don't think that life insurance businesses will just pay out a lump sum to some random person. Only to people listed as beneficiaries.

Last edited by The Niply Elder; 08-31-2013 at 10:09 AM.. Reason: Doh should've previewed
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  #27  
Old 08-31-2013, 11:03 AM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaboi867 View Post
I have a legal self-help book from 1970. Men who were seperating or divorcing their wives used to have to publish a notice in the local papers to stop local merchants from extending credit to their wives (& leaving the husband liable for the bill). This was when it was next to impossible for married women to get credit on their own.
Were there any provisions preventing men from running up big bills that the ex-wife would have to pay?
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Old 08-31-2013, 11:47 AM
lifedreamer lifedreamer is offline
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Thank you for the help! I have her on the trail of a pro-bono attny and also trying to get her to get a free consult from an attorney. As far as the debts incurred I am not up to date on that yet. The deceased husband had a business arrangement with "the other woman" and I am not sure what that is all about yet. I do know that he was cutting ties with "the other woman" and reestablishing a relationship with his wife so that may be "the other womans" theory as to get back at wife. Sorry for so many details but it is very hard to explain otherwise. I will keep checking back for more replies! Thank you all!!
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  #29  
Old 08-31-2013, 04:21 PM
Lynn Bodoni Lynn Bodoni is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alphaboi867 View Post
I have a legal self-help book from 1970. Men who were seperating or divorcing their wives used to have to publish a notice in the local papers to stop local merchants from extending credit to their wives (& leaving the husband liable for the bill). This was when it was next to impossible for married women to get credit on their own.
There used to be a legal principle called coverture, where a husband and wife were considered to become one person when they got married. As one judge put it, and that person was the husband.

When Betty Sue Jones and John Jacob Smith got married, her name was either Betty Jones Smith or Mrs. John Jacob Smith. If J. J. Smith had a checking account, many merchants would allow Betty to sign a check as Mrs. J. J. Smith, and many banks would allow her to cash his paycheck, even if she wasn't listed on his account. And, of course, the wife could charge stuff at local merchants in her husband's name.

Sounds like a pretty sweet deal for the wife, right? Yeah, it was, IF her husband was making plenty of money and IF he was willing to let her use his name. Publishing the ads was one way to prevent a wife from running up huge charge bills. He could also go around to Tudbury's and tell them that Blondie is no longer allowed to charge anything, and go to the bank and say that she's not allowed to cash or sign his checks. Another way was to punish her, severely. Remember, it was legal for a husband to have sex with his wife whether she wanted it or not back then. And domestic violence wasn't really taken seriously.

In some cases, the wife was earning more, and on a more regular basis, than her husband was. However, he had the right to control her paycheck, and to dispose of her assets without her permission.
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:04 AM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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I recall a case where the fellow died of cancer. He'd been shacked up with his woman for about 15 years, but for some reason his paperwork was still in the ex-wife's name.

It was pretty nasty. He knew he was dying, he should have switched beneficiaries for his pension, his life insurance, written a will, etc. - he did not. Denial? Just a general asshole? Who knows. Fortunately, in Canada, the person you currently cohabit with for the last 6 months or more is entitled to your CPP survivor benefit (sort of like Social Security). It got ugly when the kids came by demanding that the truck, boat etc. were theirs.

In situations like that, good legal help is a must.

OTOH, some other fellow left his wife and kids for a bimbo, also very messy. He died in a car accident not long after, and had not changed his paperwork so the (ex)wife got everything.
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Old 09-01-2013, 01:39 AM
picunurse picunurse is offline
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My grandmother was (probably) bi-polar. Every spring, she'd go buy something expensive, pawn it and use the money to run off for a few weeks.
My grandfather put such a notice in the local paper, even though he had no intention of divorcing her, he just didn't want to have to pay for her crazy.

He would put it in the paper a few weeks before her normal time to run off. Most of the local (small town) merchants would deny her credit.
After that, she'd take stuff from the house to pawn, like my clarinet.
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  #32  
Old 09-01-2013, 01:07 PM
nearwildheaven nearwildheaven is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
I recall a case where the fellow died of cancer. He'd been shacked up with his woman for about 15 years, but for some reason his paperwork was still in the ex-wife's name.

It was pretty nasty. He knew he was dying, he should have switched beneficiaries for his pension, his life insurance, written a will, etc. - he did not. Denial? Just a general asshole? Who knows. Fortunately, in Canada, the person you currently cohabit with for the last 6 months or more is entitled to your CPP survivor benefit (sort of like Social Security). It got ugly when the kids came by demanding that the truck, boat etc. were theirs.

In situations like that, good legal help is a must.

OTOH, some other fellow left his wife and kids for a bimbo, also very messy. He died in a car accident not long after, and had not changed his paperwork so the (ex)wife got everything.
Dear Abby printed a letter a while back from a young widow whose husband died suddenly, and he had a life insurance policy through work where the money ended up going to his first wife because he had never changed the beneficiary. The benefits coordinator said he probably assumed it automatically changed when he remarried, something s/he'd encountered more than once. This widow wouldn't have minded all that much if that first marriage had children, but it didn't and hers did.

Moral of the story: Keep your beneficiaries updated.
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  #33  
Old 09-01-2013, 02:35 PM
robert_columbia robert_columbia is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
...
The newspaper ad was due to the fact that publishing a notice in a widely circulated paper (they used to be, too) was the equivalent of making sure everyone knew - sort of like posting a notice in the town square.

The same sort of notices were IIRC required for other legal business, like bankruptcy and estate settlement announcements?
And newspaper notices were once used in small towns for general gossip purposes. I have uncovered small-town newspaper postings about some of my own ancestors in the late 1800's. I can tell that in such and such a month great great great grandma wasn't feeling well, please send cakes and get-well cards and that Mayor Smith's little sister is in town, having traveled all the way from Ohio and is staying at the mayoral residence, tea is at 5. Huge amounts of personal details for anyone and everyone to read, and now these records are being archived and may be online soon (as opposed to just microfilm) for everyone in the world to read.
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Old 09-03-2013, 09:36 AM
ftg ftg is offline
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Originally Posted by robert_columbia View Post
And newspaper notices were once used in small towns for general gossip purposes. I have uncovered small-town newspaper postings about some of my own ancestors in the late 1800's. I can tell that in such and such a month great great great grandma wasn't feeling well, please send cakes and get-well cards and that Mayor Smith's little sister is in town, having traveled all the way from Ohio and is staying at the mayoral residence, tea is at 5. Huge amounts of personal details for anyone and everyone to read, and now these records are being archived and may be online soon (as opposed to just microfilm) for everyone in the world to read.
I just went thru a few years of a small town paper looking up family references in the local doings column. Trips out of town, visitors, school events, etc. Of course going in or out of the hospital. No HIPAA in a small town back then. Lots of legal notices about (other) people owing money. A lot.

I copied all I could find and sent them to my sister who was thrilled by it.

In another locale, my aunt was for years the local new columnist for her area. So all our family visits and such were documented. She'd clip out the items and send them to me so I have a stack of those.

Big city papers might have a lot more subscribers if they did this. Of course, each paper would weigh a hundred pounds, but at least they'd have eyes for advertisers.
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