A few years ago I got a credit monitoring app and started watching my credit score (high 700s). It's been climbing slowly and sends me an alert when I apply for new credit — like when I bought a car or applied for a Lowe's card.
Today I set my wife up with the same app. Her credit score is moderately lower than mine (low 700s). We discussed the details to try and find out why and I found out that she had cosigned with her parents on credit cards that have been maxed out, totaling low five figures. I didn't pitch a fit at the time. The total debt is a major inconvenience but it's not "We can't pay that off in our lifetime" money.
As I drove to work, I realized that like roaches, there may be more issues at hand. I knew that my in-laws are not financially sound but didn't realize the magnitude. I'm not trying to be judgmental - the recession hit them hard - but it is what it is.
Unfortunately, in addition to those cards, my wife's car is also titled to both her and her parents and more importantly, our bank account also has her mom's name on it*. Can those assets be seized in whole or in part in any unfortunate events?
Finally — my credit score seems healthy with no mention of those cards but my wife and I are married. Are there any active steps I need to take to prevent my credit from sinking?
TL;DR — My wife is on the hook for credit card debt and the car and bank account are shared with holders of bad credit. Can those real assets be seized? Since we are married, what do I need to do to wall off my credit score from that issue?
*I lost the fight on whose bank to go with when we got married and we just left the MIL on the account. My wife was a preteen when they opened the account so they put both her and her mom on it. My MIL doesn't have a debit card or checks so she'd have to go to the bank personally to make a withdrawal.