Who’s Responsible After Spouse’s Death?
Q: Am I legally responsible for credit card debt that was only in my deceased husband’s name?
A: Any account you open while you are married is considered a joint account in states that are “community property” states. In these states, debts are viewed as joint debts, even if they are opened only in one individual’s name. Effectively, upon your spouse’s death, you are responsible for any outstanding debts on these accounts. Contact creditors to notify them of your spouse’s death, and discuss closing all joint accounts and opening new accounts in your name alone. You can request a legal release of your debt obligation from lenders. However, until you have this release, the debts will remain on your credit report. And do not forget to notify the Social Security Administration as soon as possible after your spouse’s death. You may be eligible for benefits that could help you through this difficult time.
The information on this site should be understood to be a general discussion of the subject matter and DOES NOT constitute a legal opinion about the situation. For further information please consult a qualified attorney.