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What happens to credit card debt upon someone’s death? Is credit card debt passed on to heirs when a loved one dies?

Credit card debt is not passed on to heirs when a loved one dies, but it can still affect you. When someone dies with debt, credit card companies will first try to collect from the deceased’s estate. If there is not enough money in the estate, heirs may have to sell assets from the estate in order to cover the liabilities.

So, even though the heirs are not directly responsible for the debt, they may have to sell assets they were expecting to keep in order to repay the deceased’s financial obligations.

If, after assets are sold, there still is not enough money in the estate to cover the remaining debt, the company that issued the credit card will write off the debt. Usually, a death certificate is required as proof. Family members are not legally liable for any debt.

Be careful, however, if you are a joint account holder on a credit card. If you have a card in common with someone, you are responsible for the debt on that account if the other account holder dies.

Source: American Bar Association. Guide to Wills and Estates.


Suzi McGarvey, Extension Associate, University of Missouri Extension











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Last update: Thursday, July 24, 2008




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