Credit card debt upon death

There may not be such an obligation in the cardholder agreement, you would have to read it. Ordinarily when someone dies, the estate (or successor trustee) notifies all of creditors and the debts are taken care of in probate.

I guess I am not seeing anything in your response that differed from what I said though? I stated it was a personal decision and was certainly inlfuenced by circumstances. I can certainly see instances where I would NOT feel obilgated to pay the CC bills with certain people.

In my particular case though I would be fine with it because of my relationship with my wife and how we both handle money and finances (I should note that this is all a moot and academic question as neither of us carry credit card debt).

But if she ran up huge bills at say Chippendales and male strip clubs–probably NOT going to feel obligated to pay her bills :smiley:

Some credit card companies deserve to be screwed over, though. I speak from experience here, since for a few months during my thoroughly undistinguished legal career I represented credit card companies (and other creditors) in collection actions. Some credit card companies (I won’t mention the worst offender by name here, but that name rhymes with “Shittybank”) deliberately extended credit card accounts to people that they had no business giving credit to. Like the chronically unemployed unskilled laborer who hadn’t worked in, oh, three years, and then “got Jesus” and was “born again”, somehow managed to scrape together enough money for a bible college degree, and then figured he could start his own church because, of course, his good pal Jesus wouldn’t let him fail…

And people wonder why the financial system is crumbling around our heads. :wink:



I hadn’t thought of that…I was a bit distracted at the time, having had to deal with a lot of other matters. I’d also recently talked with the bank where we’d had a joint money-market account, and they wanted me to jump through all kinds of hoops, including get some sort of court document regarding her estate, in order to close the account. I settled that one by writing myself a check for the balance in the account, then letting them close the account themselves for inactivity and “being under the minimum balance” six months later (at which time they sent me a check for the 38 cents in interest that had accumulated the month I’d taken the money out).

OK, so the estate of the deceased is on the hook for payment. What I’ve always wondered is who gets paid first: creditors or heirs?

Just my opinion but I would say it is creditors. The deceased has those obligations and they need to be satisfied. Anything left over is then divided by the will. At least that is what happened my when my wife’s grandmother died. My wife was the executor and there were bills to be paid such as her last income tax filing and some funeral expenses, etc. Those were all paid from the estate and then the remains divided up per her grandmothers will. But that is my only experience in this arena–and I am quite sure we must have someone here who does this type of work on a regular basis.


If after paying the creditors there isn’t enough money to fully pay the specific gifts in the will, then the specific gifts are reduced proportionately.

Getting back to the ethics, I do think there is a moral obligation to discharge the deceased’s debts if sufficient assets passed through joint ownership. For instance, if the CC debt is $2k, and the joint chequing account had $10k in it, if I were the other joint chequing account holder, I’d feel morally obliged to pay that debt because the deceased really did have the ability to pay it.

Of course you did, and I appreciate your taking my post in the spirit it was intended. I realized later, “man, that really would have been a good place for a :).” Didn’t mean to minimize what you were going through with my smart-assitude.

Actually, what you suggested is the sort of thing I would have done under different circumstances. Our house had been struck by lightning once; the only damage was a few fried electronics and some roofing repairs, the total cost of which was under $2000, all of which were covered by our insurance. A year or two after that I was shopping for new homeowner’s insurance and after signing up with a new company received a notice that the new policy was being canceled because of the prior claim, including some BS about “not having taken action to prevent a recurrence of the actions that caused it.” I remember asking the agent if I was supposed to sue Mother Nature, or perhaps take out a restraining order against God?

Lucky me, I’m going through this now with a collection agency calling while my husband’s tiny estate goes through probate.