My husband just died. Am I responsible for credit card debt that is in his name only?

Asked almost 4 years ago - Costa Mesa, CA

There was no estate set up. The only assets I have are about $30,000.00 from a 403B account, two small death benefits from his two pensions, and I'll be collecting about $1,000.00 per month total from his two pensions. Am I responsible to pay the credit card debt that was in his name alone? Am I responsible to pay credit card debt on which I was not joint but only an authorized card holder? If I do not pay, will it adversely effect my credit score or can the credit card companies take the pensions I'll be getting as surviving spouse, attach my wages, or any other asset such as if I buy a home in the future?
I've been given conflicting info - please help.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Janet Lee Brewer

    Pro

    Contributor Level 17

    Answered . If the credit card was used for "community property" purposes, then you could very well be responsible for the debt, especially if you were authorized to use it. I suggest you contact a California lawyer who is very familiar with consumer debt issues rather than a probate lawyer.

    The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for individual advice regarding your own situation.

  2. Henry Daniel Lively

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . You are not responsible for your husbands separate debts. The reason you are probably getting conflicting information is that you have debts that may be considered joint debts. It is unclear without further review whether they are or not. If you have somehow guaranteed the debts or are considered jointly liable, then you will have personal liability. You should have a local attorney review these accounts and determine their status.

    Any individual seeking legal advice for their own situation should retain their own legal counsel as this response provides information that is general in nature and not specific to any person's unique situation. Circular 230 Disclaimer - Advice given in this response cannot be used to eliminate penalties with the IRS or any other governmental agency.

  3. Steven J. Fromm

    Contributor Level 20

    Answered . Generally, it the credit card was in your husband's name solely, it would be his debt. However, it is troubling that you were an "authorized card holder" whatever that means. You need to read the fine print to see if this authorized card holder status makes you contractually liable under the contract. Anything short of getting a definitive answer on this point is mere speculation. So have the contract reviewed by a contract, corporate or estate lawyer.

    Hope this helps. If you think this post was helpful, please check the thumbs up (helpful) tab below. Thanks.
    LEGAL DISCLAIMER
    Mr. Fromm is licensed to practice law in PA with offices in Philadelphia and Montgomery Counties and services clients throughout the state of Pennsylvania. He can be reached at 215-735-2336 or at the email address listed below. He is rated as an AV Preminent attorney from Lexis-Nexis Martindale Hubbell having the received the highest possble rating in legal ability and ethical standards. In addition, he has received a 10.0 rating from AVVO and recently was featured as a 5Star Wealth Manager in the Philadelphia Magazine, November 2009 issue on page 123.
    Mr. Fromm is ethically required to state that the response herein is not legal advice and does not create an attorney/ client relationship. Also, there are no recognized legal specialties under Pennsylvania law. Any references to a trust, estate or tax lawyer refer only to the fact that Mr. Fromm limits his practice to these areas of the law. These responses are only in the form of legal education and are intended to only provide general information about the matter within the question. Oftentimes the question does not include significant and important facts and timelines that if known could significantly change the reply or make such reply unsuitable. Mr. Fromm strongly advises the questioner to confer with an attorney in their state in order to ensure proper advice is received.
    By using this site you understand and agree that there is no attorney client relationship or confidentiality between you and the attorney responding. This site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in the subject area in your jurisdiction, who is familiar with your specific facts and all of the circumstances and with whom you have an attorney client relationship. The law changes frequently and varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. The information and materials provided are general in nature, and may not apply to a specific factual or legal circumstance described in the question or omitted from the question.
    Circular 230 Disclaimer - Any information in this comment may not be used to eliminate or reduce penalties by the IRS or any other governmental agency.

Can't find what you're looking for? Ask a Lawyer

Get free answers from experienced attorneys.

 

Ask now

23,599 answers this week

2,592 attorneys answering

Ask a Lawyer

Get answers from top-rated lawyers.

  • It's FREE
  • It's easy
  • It's anonymous

23,599 answers this week

2,592 attorneys answering