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Authorized user when primary card holder passes away

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Authorized user when primary card holder passes away

My Mother in law passed away in 2013. My father in law was an authorized user on her Discover card and continued to use it after her death, but kept the balance close to $0. My father in law passed away in 2016, but before his death he added my husband and I as authorized users on my MIL's Discover card. There was a long credit history on it, with no missed or late payments, and we needed the credit boost because we were buying a house. After my father in law's death, my husband and I used the Discover Card to take care of his final expenses and make repairs to his home before we sold it. My father in law had a trust and my husband was the executor, so we thought he was in the clear to do that. We found out after those charges had been made that my Mother in Law was the original card holder. 

My husband and I kept up with the payments on the card for about a year and a half, but recently have had some financial issues and are declaring bankruptcy. We have included the amount charged to the Discover Card in the bankruptcy. The card is currently more than 90 days late, and is still reporting to our credit reports every month because we are authorized users and the account is still open. We need the reporting to stop so we can rebuild our credit after discharge, and we're concerened about being named in a lawsuit if Discover files one. We're very hesitant to call Discover and remove ourselves as authorized users and/or let them know that both my inlaws have passed for fear that we'll be held responsible for the balance because we used the cards after the primary cardholder's death. The balance on the card is about $19,000 and there is no way we can pay it. If we've inculded this amount in our bankruptcy, are we no longer liable at all once it is discharged? Is it "safe" to call Discover after discharge to remove ourselves as authorized users and close the account? This is an absolute mess. Any advice would be appreciated. 

2 REPLIES 2
Community Leader
Mega Contributor

Re: Authorized user when primary card holder passes away

That card should have been closed in 2013, after the death of primary card holder. 

Was discover notified? 

 

I personally see this as credit card fraud. 

EX 759 EQ 774 TU 753


Message 2 of 3
Established Contributor

Re: Authorized user when primary card holder passes away

"Rather than write off the balance, banks often sue authorized users who keep using cards after the primary account holder's death. The lawsuits usually ask for the entire balance, not just the portion charged by an authorized user.

Many state prosecutors also consider this kind of activity a form of fraud, punishable by fines and jail time. A court won't care if you were just trying to be expedient with your short term purchases. If those new purchases also reduce the value of an estate, other beneficiaries could sue you for the value of those transactions, plus penalties and court costs.

Under current banking regulations, most credit card companies will require you to open a new account in your own name instead of just taking over someone else's existing account, even if you intend to pay down the balance. That's true, regardless of the relationship between the primary account holder and the authorized user."
Read more at: https://www.cardratings.com/what-happens-when-someone-dies-with-credit-card-in-their-name.html

You should definately talk to your bankruptcy attorney about this.  It may be that this debt, which is legally considered fraudulent, may not be dischargable in bankruptcy.  You need legal advice!

Message 3 of 3
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