Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Credit Card Debt of a Decedent

What happens to credit card debt at death? The general rule is that when a cardholder dies, the debt is paid from his own assets and a spouse is not liable for the bill. In Ohio, the credit card company has six months to file a claim against the estate. Otherwise the debt is not valid. If there are insufficient non-joint assets, the debt will go unpaid. This applies even if a spouse was an authorized user on the account (but does not use the account after death).

Beware of smooth talking debt collectors who will try to convince surviving family members that they should pay the debt of the deceased for moral reasons or to maintain the good name of the deceased. There is no legal reason to do so. Also, there is little moral in a business with 18% interest rates and punitive late fees.