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Balances on Credit Card After Death

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Balances on Credit Card After Death

I had a joint card (Chase) with my mother (she was the primary) and there was a balance when she passed. Originally, I thought I would assume the debt & put the card in my name  but I was concerned about what this would do to my current credit.  There was also major fraud committed on the card to the tune of $7k ( resolved with Chase) so I asked to close the account.  I received a condolence letter stating I was not responsible for the remaining debt, but now I am getting calls about resolveing the debt and requesting information about my mother's estate.


I am confused as to who pays for this debt (myself or my mother's estate)?  The balance is fairly high (she used this card to pay for various out of pocket medical expenses). Do I do a payment plan, a lump sum or nothing at all??



Message 1 of 5
Senior Contributor

Re: Balances on Credit Card After Death

Normally a "joint" account means each party is responsible for 100% of the debt (yeah that is 200% right).


But in a death, I'm not sure if certain rules or laws prevail.  Did you have any type of death or credit protection plan?


Did you mother have life insurance?


If these are her debts, then her life insurance benefits and estate should pay it.  But if she didn't have insurance and her estate has no real assets or value, then you may be holding the bag.


You might try contacting (in writing) the bank and describing circumstances and see if you can be released from the account for some amount of money.


I would also (if the bill is high) speak to an attorney who understands wills, probate, estates and death benefits/issues.  You need to make informed decisions, not uniformed guesses.


You might try joining Prepail Legal Services which charges $17 per month to give you access to telephone attorney consults and letter writing if cost is a factor (for attorney).  PPL can refer you to an outside attorney as well with discount.


Good luck


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09/03/2009 TU: 777, EQ: 776 ($8 balance on an account dropped me out of 780's)
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Message 2 of 5
Established Contributor

Re: Balances on Credit Card After Death



You are both responsible for this debt.  No matter what, It must be paid, however, you have two options.


1) Pay the debt yourself


2) Pay the debt or a portion of the debt with money in your mothers estate.  


It does not matter how you pay it.  If you were to default and not pay this debt, then, and only then - the CC will go after your mothers estate, assuming there is still money left in her estate.


If you would like to remove her from the account, all you must do is send them a copy of Certificate of Death and they should ahve no problems removing you and maintaining the account in your name.


If it were me, and there was excess money in her estate - I would pay off or pay as much as possible using her estate then remove her via the above method.



Debt forgiveness programs offered thru CC companies, etc: are only valid if the owner of the account dies.  In a situation where an account is held jointly, the other party is responsible - regardless of who actually used the account.


Hope this helps


P.S.  I am a lawyer, so although this by far not my area of expertise, please feel free to contact me if you have any questions.  Best of Luck! 

Message 3 of 5
Moderator Emerita

Re: Balances on Credit Card After Death

magicninjahorse wrote:

I had a joint card (Chase) with my mother (she was the primary) and there was a balance when she passed ...

First of all, please accept my condolences on the loss of your mother.

Secondly, I wanted to be absolutely sure about your status on the card. There are joint users, who are equally responsible for the charges on the card, no matter what, and there are authorized users, who are allowed to use the card but are not responsible for payment. (Except for AmEx AU's, who seem to have a slightly different status.)

The reason I'm asking about the status is because of your mention of your mother being the "primary." There isn't an official primary status with joint users. "Primary" makes it sound more like she was the cardholder, and you were the AU. If that were the case, my guess would be that the estate would be responsible, but you personally would not. If you were in fact a joint user, and by "primary" you meant that she was the one who used the card and kept up with it, that would be different, of course.

And I am very much NOT a lawyer Smiley Happy, so I'm speculating on a lot of this, but I do like to clarify things like this.
* Credit is a wonderful servant, but a terrible master. * Who's the boss --you or your credit?
FICO's: EQ 781 - TU 793 - EX 779 (from PSECU) - Done credit hunting; having fun with credit gardening. - EQ 590 on 5/14/2007
Message 4 of 5
Established Contributor

Re: Balances on Credit Card After Death


HTSU is correct if in fact you meant you were an AU, but if you held the account jointly, what I said above is applicable.


I too am sorry for your loss - sorry I didnt include that in my first post, its been a long day/night...  I know how hard it is losing a mother/father. 

Message 5 of 5