Quite often, we consult with recently widowed spouses who are taken by surprise not only by the sudden death of their spouse, but by debt that was not known to the surviving spouse. This article outlines some good tips about what to do about credit card debt when a spouse passes.
One of the first things to do is to alert the credit reporting agencies of the death. This will put the creditors on notice about the death, as well as protect the deceased spouse’s identity from being stolen. Two, request a copy of the deceased spouse’s credit report. This will alert you to the number and extent of open credit lines in that spouse’s name. Three, you should contact the creditors to inform them of the death. They will probably want a copy of the death certificate. Another consideration is whether the spouse who is an authorized user on the account is responsible for the debt. If you are a resident of one of the nine community property states in the United States (California and Arizona being two of them), the authorized user is responsible for that debt. The best way to maximize what is left of the deceased spouse’s resources is to contact a debt settlement attorney to help negotiate for a large reduction of that debt.