Is a beneficiary liable for credit card debt?

UPDATED: May 24, 2011

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Is a beneficiary liable for credit card debt?

My sister passed away 5 months ago after a long battle from ovarian cancer. I was the beneficiary in her Will. Her house was placed in a trust and was left to me (there is no mortgage on it) and there is an IRA that I was also the beneficiary of. I have found that she has a credit card that has a balance due of around $7000. Am I going to be responsible for this credit card debt?

Asked on May 24, 2011 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Beneficiaries are not responsible for the credit card debt of the deceased. You were not a secondary on the account (I assume) and you did not sign any documentation assuming responsibility for the debt (I assume), so the credit card company would have to figure out a way to sue the estate. If there is a trust or a will or a combination thereof, the trustee/executor needs to figure out how to pay the debts of the estate without unduly wasting estate assets and of course usually by statute there is a priority as to what debts are paid first over others (think funeral first, then estate expenses, then debts).

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