If your spouse has recently passed away, you are likely dealing with grief alongside trying to organize their affairs. The process accompanying the loss of a loved one can be unbearable.
You’ll likely need to organize their funeral, notify other close family and friends, as well as handle administrative affairs including the settlement of their estate. If your spouse had a significant estate, they likely left most of it to you and any children that you shared.
While you may be dealing with a variety of different factors, you must also consider credit card debt and the death of a spouse. If your spouse had credit card debt in their name, you’ll need to review their credit accounts and any jointly held debts so that you can make on-time payments as needed.
If you’re wondering what to do about credit card debt after the death of a spouse, reach out to the team at Morgan & Morgan by filling out our simple online form to schedule a free consultation.
Credit Card Debt and Death of Spouse: How to Handle Joint Accounts
If you hold joint credit card accounts with your deceased spouse, you’ll need to continue to make regular payments. You should also notify the lender that your spouse has passed away. Once the lender receives notification of the death, they will report your spouse as deceased when they send their account updates to credit bureaus.
Once a credit bureau receives notice of the death, your spouse’s credit report will be flagged to indicate that he or she is deceased. This helps protect their identity from potential fraudulent individuals who may attempt to apply for credit in their name.
Creditors cannot legally close joint credit accounts or modify their terms due to the death of a spouse. However, they will usually ask you to reapply for credit in your own name. Based on the results of your application, they have the right to decide whether to continue extending credit to you or adjust your credit limit.
Credit Card Debt and Death of Spouse in a Community Property State
If you and your deceased spouse lived in a community property state, you are automatically a joint account holder of any accounts opened in their name while you were married. This means that you will be responsible for the repayment of these debts.
Your spouse may have had accounts that you weren’t aware of or may have forgotten about, so make sure to keep a close eye on any incoming bills and make payments on time to avoid credit damage.
Community property states include Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. Any debt assumed while living in these states during your marriage is considered joint debt, and each spouse has an equal obligation for its repayment.
It does not matter if you agreed to the debts or even if you knew about them. You will still have an obligation to repay them.