The Huggins Law Firm, PA
Call to Schedule a Free Consultation
Columbia 803-764-1558 Charleston 843-509-0039

Credit card debt after a spouse dies

When married couples in South Carolina are facing the death of one spouse due to a terminal illness, a question often arises as to who if anyone will be responsible for debt that has been incurred through a credit card issued solely in the name of the dying spouse, even if the surviving spouse has been listed as an authorized user. Some issuers will attempt to go after the survivor, although in most cases he or she is not legally responsible for the debt.

A spouse should be careful about using credit cards in a terminally ill spouse's name as an authorized user with the intent that the debt will not be paid back after death. Racking up debt with the knowledge that it won't be paid back can constitute fraud in some cases, especially in a bankruptcy court. However, it should be noted that the decedent's debt will have to be paid off by the estate, and to the extent the surviving spouse stood to inherit assets, this could have an impact.

In some states, a surviving spouse must pay back debt related to "necessities" after the death of their loved one. This may mean that a surviving spouse could become liable for medical expenses and other costs incurred prior to death. Assets in the probate estate may also be used to pay creditors before any of the assets are distributed to survivors.

Issuers will often institute collection activities against a surviving spouse with respect to credit card debt that was solely in the name of the decedent. As a result, the surviving spouse's credit report may be harmed, even if he or she was not legally responsible. Those who are in this position may want to have the assistance of an attorney in seeking to have the credit bureaus correct these types of mistakes.

No Comments

Leave a comment
Comment Information

The Huggins Law Firm, PA

Columbia Office
1812 Lincoln Street
Suite 201
Columbia, SC 29201

Phone: 803-764-1558
Fax: 803-764-1563
Columbia Bankruptcy Office

Columbia Office

Charleston Office
925-D Wappoo Road
Charleston, SC 29407

Phone: 843-509-0039
Fax: 866-481-2325
Map & Directions

Charleston Office