If a credit card account holder dies, can an authorized userbe held liable for payment of the balance owed?

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If a credit card account holder dies, can an authorized userbe held liable for payment of the balance owed?

My wife died with a $10K balance on her credit card. I was an authorized user, and this account is listed on my credit reports. The card company cancelled the account (because of her death) and the statements are now addressed to the “Estate of my wife’s name”, and I’m making monthly payments. There is no remaining estate. Our assets (home and vehicle) were in both names but are now in my name only. I don’t know where I legally stand on this.

Asked on August 12, 2011 Arizona

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

If you were authorized to use the card, but were not on the account itself, you should not be responsible for the charges; only the person(s) on the account are responsible. Of course, your wife's estate can be held responsible, which will affect what you can receive from her estate.

The above said, the thing to do is to review all the documentation--the original account agreement, an documentation adding  you as an authorized user, and indeed, anything else received from the credit card issuer (and especially anything signed by your wife or yourself)--IF you are mistaken in terms of how you were added, and instead of being added only as an authorized user, you were added to the account itself, you could be liable.


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