Liability after wife dies.


Old 12-12-06, 05:16 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: Syracuse, NY USA
Posts: 131
Unhappy Liability after wife dies.

My wife recently passed away.She had been sick for a while,and though she was young,41,it was a blessing.She had a credit card that she was the primary card holder.I was issued a card also.When she died,I called to inform them,as I wasnt sure if I could keep up the payment and wanted some kind of deferral.I later tried to make a payment online,but it was bounced back to my checking account.Today I was notified that the account had been closed.I was not allowed to keep the card in my name.I have to wonder.Am I liable for this debt.She has no estate to go through probate.However I was named the beneficiary on a insurance policy.I dont really want to pay it if its not going to affect MY credit rating.
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Old 12-12-06, 06:25 PM
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Location: WI/MN
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My understanding is that you are liable for this debt.
Old 12-13-06, 12:06 PM
Join Date: Sep 2005
Location: Where the cows roam, CA
Posts: 2,204
So sorry about your wife and I'm glad you see it was a blessing when she was around. I hope this info will be another blesssing upon you.

You mentioned you were "issued" a card. Would that make you a *joint* account holder or just an authorized user? Had to ask as it wasn't clear. I believe once you read the info from the above site, you will find your answer. If I read it correctly, you are not held responsible "legally" (as long as you are NOT a *joint* account holder). Being an authorized user does not make you responsible for the payment.

My heart goes out to you.
Old 12-13-06, 01:21 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: USA
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It's always been my understanding that 'debt dies with the debtor', at least in the case of *unsecured debt* such as credit cards.

When my grandparents died, my parents sent a letter and a copy of the death certificate to the various debtors. The accounts were closed and never heard from again.

Just the cost of doing business, and a tax write-off for the company.

As for as joint account vs authorized user. Always good to check on that, my parents added me as an authorized user years ago to one of their credit cards. Later, that card showed up as a debt on MY credit report. A carefully worded letter the the card company and credit reporting agencies and it was removed.
Old 12-13-06, 05:43 PM
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My condolences, highfargone.

Just went through similar circumstances with death of my business partner; he was the primary account holder and I was an authorized user. I was not able to maintain the accounts open even though they were business cards. Additionally I was told neither I nor the company were liable for the unpaid balance and to disregard any further statements from the cc company. Only about $300 was still due on one of the cards; I had just sent in a large payment. Guess I should have waited, but thought the corporation was still obligated. Apparently not. His wife talked to one of the other card companies that they had a personal card through (no names, but rhymes with face) because she was booked on a cruise with her parents (was supposed to have been a foursome) and they said no problem. Two days into the cruise her credit card came up denied because they in fact DID close it out. Good thing she was with family. She reemed them good when she got home. It's been an education.
Old 12-13-06, 07:10 PM
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actually since you did not mention your state, it is impossible to determine if there wolud be any liability for the debt.

The status of "joint" or " authoirized use is also critical.

Although you state there was no estate to probate, are you sure? Depending upon what state you live in would make a difference. If you owned any real estate and how title to that real estate was held could make a difference.

re: the life insurance

insurance passes outside of probate (if there is probate) and is not subject to any claims against the estate (unless the bene of the insurance is the estate).

re:your credit; be careful and check your individual credit report. It seems that "authorized users" have had the account placed onto their CR (incorrectly) quite often. If you were only an authorized user, it shouldn't be there. If you were a joint account holder, your going to be responsible for the debt and it will be on your CR

If your check got returned, you definately want to be sure the account status. If the account was simply closed and written off due to no liability on your part, you would be good to go. If the account was closed with you having a liability, it may have be sold to a debt collector already due to your communications and the request for consideration being seen as a default.

Don;t wait for something to happen. Be proactive on this issue.
Old 12-18-06, 06:11 AM
Join Date: Nov 2006
Posts: 4
Condolences of the death of your wife.

You have received some very good advice in this post. However it is very state specific for how this is handled. Not by your state but by the state where the credit issuer claims to follow the law. In most cases your credit issuer is located legally in either Delaware or Nevada.

You will want to check your credit at the FTC site This is the really free site that was set up by last years legislation. There are no fees and no signups at this site.

If the account is not listed on your credit report you are probably clear. But again this is not definitive advice because I don't have all the details.


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