Credit Card Debt Of Deceased Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

Credit card debt of deceased loved ones is not a pleasant subject to talk about, but it is important to get the cancellation of debt facts now so you don’t get any nasty surprises later.

I was an authorized user of my mother’s bank card, but I was not a joint account holder. She has died. Am I responsible for her bills?

In a situation where you were only an authorized card user of your mothers card and you were not actually an account card holder (you did not sign the credit agreement), then you are not responsible for her debts.

Credit Card Debt of Deceased Legal Issue For Debt Elimination FAQ

What happens to your card bills when you die?

Typically, when you die, it is the responsibility of your estate to pay off the balances on any outstanding card accounts. If it goes through probate, then the law will determine the order in which the debts are to be paid. The remaining funds are then distributed to any heirs per the terms of your will or by the laws of the state if no will exists.

My father passed away and left a lot of bills but his assets did not cover it all. I am his next of kin, can his creditors come after me?

No. If your fathers assets do not cover his bills, then the credit card companies will do a cancellation of debt and write off the account. Creditors cannot legally force a person to pay off debts of deceased family members if those family members did not sign the credit application.

I live in Louisiana, which is a community property state, and my husband just passed away. Am I responsible for his debts?

There are currently ten states that recognize community property laws. However, each state has its own set of laws and they may differ from state to state. Even if your husband’s account was separate and your name was not on it, depending on the state, you could wind up getting credit card debt collection calls on his debts.

What steps should I take if I start getting hounded by collectors for credit card debt of deceased loved ones?

If you think that the debt is valid, follow these steps:

1. Make sure that the debt has not already been settled, either prior to death or in probate (or dismissed).

2. If the collector is asserting that your name is on the account, that you signed the credit application or relevant paperwork, then it is the responsibility of the creditor to give to you proof in writing.

3. Make sure that the statute of limitations has not run out. If it has, then the debts are not valid.

4. Talk to an attorney. If you aren’t sure whether or not you are responsible for the credit card debt of deceased loved ones, talk to your lawyer.

There are no cut and dry answers for deceased credit card debts. However, if you play it smart and ask the right questions to the right people, you will be able to get the most fair deal that is possible.

Your inheritance may take a hit in probate as the courts pay off the outstanding bills, but if you feel that you are being hounded and you shouldn’t be, talk to your lawyer.

FTC Consumer Alert: Debts of a Deceased Relative

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