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If my spouse dies, will I be stuck with their credit card debt?

On Behalf of | Mar 2, 2017 | Personal Bankruptcy

Dealing with the death of a spouse in North Carolina can be a devastating and emotional time. Unfortunately, when a loved one passes, there are also often financial considerations involved. If your spouse had a lot of credit card debt when he or she passed, you may become responsible for it but only in some situations.

If your spouse had credit accounts that were solely in their name, you will not be personally responsible for paying them off after his or her death, according to NerdWallet. That responsibility would fall to the person’s estate. Now, if you are the executor of the estate, you may still have to deal with creditors. However, your own personal finances will not be at stake. Money from the estate should be used to pay off the balances. Should there not be enough funds in the estate to cover the full amounts, creditors could take legal action, although that may be unlikely.

While no one likes to think that their spouse keeps secrets from them, sometimes people open accounts that their significant other knows nothing about. In order to make sure that you are aware of all of your spouse’s debts, it may be a good idea to request a credit report. Once you identify all of the creditors who are owed money, you or the executor will want to submit all of the proper paperwork, including the death certificate.

The only circumstance where you may be personally liable to pay off your deceased spouse’s credit card debt is if you were a joint account holder. This differs from being authorized user, which means that you can use the account but have no obligation to pay. If the account was in both of your names, you will be responsible for any unpaid balances after your spouse’s death. This is provided as general information on this topic and should not be considered legal advice.


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