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Death doesn’t always erase credit card debt

After a death in Oregon, a spouse or other family member may discover that the deceased had a considerable amount of credit card debt. This could be uncovered as the executor or administrator of the estate gathers the information on assets and debts, or it may be that creditors begin to call and request or demand payment. In some cases, these calls are not legal, but a family member needs to make sure that he or she is not on the hook for the accounts.

CreditCards.com explains that unsecured debt is not typically inherited as assets are. However, anyone who co-signs on a credit card application is a joint holder, and the debt belongs solely to that person after the death, even though he or she may not have had any part in the accumulation of the debt. Having the ability to charge purchases to the card does not make a person a joint cardholder. Authorized users are not responsible for the debt, even though their names are on the account.

People who are unsure whether they may be on the account as a joint holder or authorized user should check the credit card reports, BankRate.com warns. Creditors may call and attempt to convince family members they must pay, but once the companies are informed of the death in writing, they should not call again unless the person contacted is actually responsible for the debt, or the person is the executor of the estate. Any credit card debts left behind that are not jointly held should be paid from the estate.

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