If my spouse dies will I be responsible for their credit card debt?

Question

If my spouse dies will I be responsible for their credit card debt?

Answer

Do you have to worry about passing credit card debt to your spouse if you die? The answer is generally no, but it depends.

If any of the credit card accounts are in the names of both spouses, then the other spouse is clearly liable for the debt incurred on those cards regardless of death. The spouse could also be responsible for notifying creditors of the spouse's death and paying them from the estate left by the dead spouse. Credit card debt holders would be included under the category of creditors. This is because if there is money in the spouse's estate to pay the credit card debt, that debt must be paid before the estate can be divided among the relatives or those named in the will.

What if the spouse's estate has no money and the living spouse was not a joint account holder on any of the credit cards at issue? In that case, it depends on whether the spouses live in a community property state.

In a community property state, the spouses own everything in the marriage 50-50. This includes all debts acquired during the marriage. If the couple lived in a community property state, then the creditors will likely be able to make the living spouse liable for the debt even if that spouse was not listed as an account holder or the dead spouse's estate is insolvent.

However, if none of these circumstances apply the creditor gets nothing.

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