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Handling a spouse’s credit card debt after a death

On Behalf of | Oct 9, 2015 | Credit Card Debt, Firm News

Laws pertaining to who is responsible for credit card debt can be complicated. It is essential for married couples in Florida to understand the status of the credit card debt of both spouses and how the debt may affect them as individuals should one spouse pass away. When one spouse dies and debt collectors come calling, the living spouse may find him or herself swamped with the other person’s debt and unsure about his or her options.

One woman recently inquired as to what may become of her terminally ill husband’s credit card debt after he passes away. The first thing the woman in that scenario has been advised to do is to check her credit report. This should outline which credit card accounts consider her simply an authorized user and which consider to a primary user. If she is a primary user, she may certainly be held accountable for the debt after the death of her husband.

Another area of concern is use of credit cards with knowledge that both the husband may soon pass and the repayment of charges is not possible. When a bankruptcy is filed, the use of credit cards in a certain time period before the actual filing is analyzed and can lead to accusations of fraud. If the wife knows she will not pay back the debt but continues to use the cards anyway, she could be at risk for fraud charges; therefore, knowing the legal possibilities is important.

Credit card debt can be overwhelming for Florida couples, regardless of health and plans for paying back the debt. Knowing who may be held responsible for the debt is just as important as knowing the options for paying down or discharging credit card debt. Bankruptcy can be one means of alleviating debt and regaining control when a death has occurred or other life circumstances make repayment difficult or impossible.

Source: USA Today, “Dying spouse? How to handle credit cards“, Gerri Detweiler, Oct. 4, 2015

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