It’s hard enough to deal with the death of a spouse, let alone settle that person’s financial affairs. Here’s what you need to know about handling credit card debt after your spouse has died.
Contact Your Spouse’s Creditors
If a credit card was issued only in your husband or wife’s name, you generally are not responsible for paying off the debt. You need to tell the credit card company that your spouse has died. The credit card firm will more than likely write off the account.
However, if you live in a community property state, the credit card company may consider the account to be a joint account, making you responsible for the debt. Community property states are Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.
You Are Responsible for Joint Accounts
Any credit cards that were opened as joint accounts are your responsibility. You have to pay back any debt owed. You can close the account and pay it off, or ask that it be changed to an individual account in your name. The interest rate and other terms could change if you ask for an individual account.
Do You Need Debt Counseling?
If you find that you are in over your head with credit card debt and other bills, you may need help with paying down debt. A debt counseling firm can help figure out where to go from here to get back on track financially. In addition to helping you put together a budget, debt counseling may discuss alternatives for paying bills, such as debt settlement or debt consolidation.
Chris Rocks is the Regional Director of the National Credit Federation (NCF). NCF is a nationwide membership-based organization that assists consumers recovering from a financial difficulty and those who need a significant increase in their credit score.
Chris began his financial services career as a Financial Advisor helping young families with risk management and asset accumulation strategies. It was during that time that Chris realized that many of these young families also needed someone to guide their choices with regards to debt management.
He made the transition into the mortgage industry where he first worked as a loan originator and later the Vice President of a small mortgage company. As Chris came across clients who had suffered through financial challenges and saw the difficulty they had in re-entering our credit driven economy, he discovered there was a real opportunity to leverage his unique background and help others.
He can be contacted by visiting his personal site, GoodCreditLiving.com.
Francine L. Huff is the Publisher and Editorial Director of Super Savvy Publishing, LLC, which provides editorial and publishing services. She is a gifted author, freelance journalist, and motivational speaker who has entertained and motivated a variety of audiences through workshops, panels and keynote addresses. Francine is the author of The 25-Day Money Makeover for Women, which has inspired and motivated many readers to rein in poor financial habits, become good stewards over their money and work toward a debt-free life. She has appeared on a variety of TV and radio shows. Francine previously worked for the Wall Street Journal, where she was the spot news bureau chief, a news editor and a copy editor. She has interviewed a variety of financial professionals about financial issues and strives to present information about managing money in an easy-to-understand format that is accessible to people of all backgrounds and income levels.
Karen Lawson is a freelance writer with more than 15 years of experience working in mortgage banking and loan servicing. She holds BA and MA degrees in English from the University of Nevada, Reno. She enjoys writing informative articles about debt management and personal finance.