Scenario 1: You and your spouse have joint card debt.
If you have a joint credit card and either account holder dies, it’s up to the other account holder to pay back the debt. This is true even if you signed as a co-signer and you never used the card. You’ll be responsible for the entire amount even if the deceased spouse was the one who racked up all the charges.
Scenario 2: You have individual card debt.
If you have an individual credit card, this debt must still be repaid but it won’t generally fall to your spouse to do so. Once you die, all your property, including any debts you have, must get repaid through the probate process. Your estate administrator will notify creditors of your death. After that the creditors have a limited time in which to file a claim against your estate. If they don’t file, they don’t get repaid. Also, if they file and the estate doesn’t have enough money to pay the debt back, they also may not get repaid.
Scenario 3: You are an authorized user on your spouse’s card and your spouse dies.
An authorized user is not an account holder and, like an individual card holder, is not obligated to pay on the card holder’s account even if he or she made the purchases. However, not all credit cards allow “authorized users,” so always be sure you aren’t a joint account holder instead.
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