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<<My wife has a joint acct with her father. He has essentially no assets; in fact he may die with the estate owing debts. The money in the joint acct was all his,he put it in there so it would pass to my wife on his death without going thru probate.>>

And there are MUCH better ways to accomplish this. Read more about the problems associated with joint accounts with somebody other than your spouse. Do a folder search on this issue, and you'll see why it's normally something that you don't want to do.

<<Two questions:
1) If he dies with debts, will that money actually pass to my wife or does it belong to the estate until the debts are paid?>>

Sorry...this is a legal question and will depend upon your state law. I would GUESS that the creditors, if they care enough, would come looking for the co-owner of the joint account. But again...that's just a GUESS.

<<2) Is there any way that having that joint account will somehow obligate my wife for any of his debts (or at least above and beyond what is in the account)?>>

Again...another legal question. I would seriously doubt that the creditors could go beyond the assets in the account and zap your wife. But again, that's only a GUESS. You'll need competent legal help in order to answer these questions. And I ain't it. Sorry.

Perhaps Chris Riser can stop by and provide you with some additional information. He's an estate tax attorney that stops by here from time to time. He's both competent and an attorney. Exactly what you need.

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