My father died with a lot of credit card debt in his name. My mom is still alive. Does she have to pay off his credit card debt?

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My father died with a lot of credit card debt in his name. My mom is still alive. Does she have to pay off his credit card debt?

Asked on March 22, 2009 under Estate Planning, California

Answers:

S.B.A., Member, California and Texas Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

It depends.  Generally, the debts are community debts and she is responsible for those debts.

But, if she is only receiving Social Security, she may not have the means to pay the debts, and may be 'judgment-proof'.

If she is working, they can get a judgment and garnish her salary. If she is not working, they can, after judgment,  put a lien on her house, and ask the court to allow a debtor's exam to locate other assets which they can execute on (bank accounts). Check that her house (if she has one) has been 'homesteaded'.

If Mom's debts are more than her assets, she should consult a bankruptcy attorney to review her options.

 


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