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What happens when a loved one leaves you with credit card debt?

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Although having a large credit card bill is common among most Americans, sometimes people get stuck with credit card debt that is not even their own. So how does that happen? Because just about everyone has unpaid credit card bills, those bills are still around after a person dies. Just because a person in the Tampa area dies, that doesn't mean his or her credit card debt gets buried with him or her.

One of the reasons some people get stuck with paying off their loved one's credit card debts is that many wills include language that in effect directs the executor to pay off the person's debts before paying his or her beneficiaries. However, there are some measures one can take if he or she has been left in this position. Although most banks wouldn't publicize it, according to several attorneys their clients have found banks to be more willing to settle when a person has died.

One of the reasons for this is that banks and credit card companies realize that a bad credit score is no longer a threat to a deceased person. Therefore, they typically are more willing to take a smaller settlement if they can get it, especially if they get it all in one payment. Another reason is that credit card companies would rather not get collection agencies involved. They can avoid this by taking a lump sum payment that is two-thirds or even half of the total debt.

If you have been stuck with a deceased loved one's credit card debt, then you might want to speak with an experienced bankruptcy attorney who can help you with the many different aspects that kind of situation involves.

Source: Forbes, "How to cope with credit card bills after a family member dies," Deborah L. Jacobs, June 18, 2014.

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