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VA probate laws and estate administration, estates responsibility to decedents' creditors

Virginia Beach, VA |
Filed under: Estate administration

Background History
My mother-n-law just became a widow on July 28, 2008. Her husband of 57 years was a retired Lt. Col. from the U.S. Army and had currently been living in an Assisted Living Facility for over 4 1/2 years as well as her also living in an Assisted Living Facility until 5/6 months ago when she entered a Nursing Home. Since the bills during the over 4 years at the Assisted Living Facilities were more than their income combined, a credit card in his name was being used to help cover expenses at the Assisted Living Facilities. The finances are currently down to only her Social Security benefits of approximately $1,004.00 per month without any other assets other than two credit cards which have amounts of $23,000.00 and $5,500.00.
One of the two children has power of attorney and has been assisting them both with their finances in the past.


? Will this cause that child with the power of attorney to be held responsible for those credit cards?

? Should credit card insurance be taken out on these credit cards for the widow and/or their children,
no matter what it costs?

? Should a death certificate be mailed to the credit card companies?

? What should I do and who can help me?

Attorney Answers 1


  1. 1) Will this cause that child with the power of attorney to be held responsible for those credit cards?

    No, a POA is not personally liable for the debts of the person for whom they have a POA.

    2) Should credit card insurance be taken out on these credit cards for the widow and/or their children,
    no matter what it costs?

    I am uncomfortable with the "no matter what it costs" phrase. If the cards are in his name alone then it is too late for this anyways.

    3) Should a death certificate be mailed to the credit card companies?

    Yes. Go with the probate rules on this one for timing. Typically one should not be increasing debt on a card for which the owner is no longer living. However, if you do his estate is liable. If her name is on the card as well then she is also liable for the charges.

    4) What should I do and who can help me?

    Depending on the value of his estate you may need a probate. The personal representative of the estate is responsible for this and can hire a probate attorney to help. You might also consider contact the Army. Your MIL may be entitled to some survivor benefits for health insurance, etc depending on the nature of his retirement package from the military. If he was a member of the VFW or American Legion start with his post. Many posts have a VA representative stop by on a weekly basis.

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