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How a person's credit card debts are paid after they die

Kentucky residents whose loved one died and left them with a large amount of credit card debt might be wondering who is responsible for satisfying the debt. Here are some answers.

A family member is responsible for paying off a decedent's credit card debt under certain circumstances. If a surviving family member co-signed for the credit card, he or she is obligated to repay the debt because they are considered a joint account holder. However, those who are noted as authorized users on the account are typically not liable for the debt. Likewise, if the decedent had a spouse, the spouse who lives in a community property state is likely required to satisfy the debt of the deceased spouse, unless the debts were acquired prior to the marriage.

Family members should be aware that they are not legally responsible to pay for a decedent's credit card debts if the decedent was the sole name on the debt. However, credit card companies and collectors may still try to call the surviving family members and tell them they are responsible to pay the bill. They might even try to threaten them and say they will report the unpaid debt to a credit bureau. Family members should be aware that under these circumstances, the payment would come from the decedent's estate, and the executor of the estate is responsible for handing the matter.

For many people, debt can quickly accrue due to unforeseen circumstances, such as a car accident that resulted in catastrophic injuries, medical bills and income losses. Using a credit card in these situations may have been a person's only option. Those overwhelmed with credit card debt might find relief by speaking with an attorney who could help them get their debts lowered or fully discharged via a Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Source: Nerd Wallet, "Who inherits credit card debt?", Claire Tsosie, February 17, 2017

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