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

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.

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Attorney answers 3


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.

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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.


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.

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