Wills, Trusts & Estates Prof Blog

Editor: Gerry W. Beyer
Texas Tech Univ. School of Law

Friday, August 24, 2012

Lingering Credit Card Debt After Death

Credit CardsUnder most circumstances, the executor of the estate will use funds from the estate to pay any remaining debts that the decedent owned at the time of his or her death. However, there are few different instances where this will not be the case. For example, if a person is a joint cardholder with the decedent then that person is still liable for the debt. To be considered a joint cardholder, that person would have had to co-sign for the credit card. Furthermore, authorized users of the credit cards that belonged to the decedent might want to be careful about using those credit cards because there use could be criminal.

A person could also be liable on the debt if person had custody of the card. So, if a person agreed to settle the debt on his or her ex-spouse's credit card and he or she dies before that person is able to finish paying off the debt, then the ex-spouse would become liable for the remaining balance on the card. This gets more complicated if debtors are in a community property state, such as Texas. 

Finally, unpaid credit card debt can also affect the interests of the beneficiaries of the estate because the debt will be settled with funds from the estate itself. This could become a big problem, especially the case if the estate is insolvent. As with many other situations, a person should consult his or her attorney about any direct legal questions.

See Sally Herigstad, What Happens to Credit Card Debt When You Die?, Bankrate, Aug. 21, 2012.

Special thanks to David S. Luber (Attorney at law, Florida Probate Attorney Wills and Estates Law Firm) for bringing this article to my attention.


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