Isa wiferesponsible for her husband’s credit card debt upon his passing?

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Isa wiferesponsible for her husband’s credit card debt upon his passing?

I have large credit card debt (in my name only). If anything happens to me (age 71), will my wife remain obligated for my balance due? If the debt were turned into a HELOC (home owned as joint tenants, no mortgage), would the answer be the same?

Asked on December 4, 2010 under Estate Planning, New York

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

This answer is not intended to help you avoid your debt.  In the first scenario I would have to answer "no," your wife would not be responsible for the debt if it were solely yours, even if she were an authorized used on the card.  But your estate would be responsible for the debt and if you have any asset that may not pass to her with rights of survivorship then it would be able to be attached by a creditor.  How you have planned your estate here is important.  AS for turning it in to a HELOC, the property is I assume jointly owned, correct?  Then your wife would have to sign the papers for  HELOC and she would be responsible for payment upon your death.  Go and see a debt counselor and estate planner.  Good luck.


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