Is a person liable for their deceased spouse’s debt?

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Is A Person Liable For Their Deceased Spouses Debt

The death of a spouse is a traumatic event for a family. Besides the intense grief that the death of a spouse brings, there is also a lot of paperwork and other details to get through. While going through a spouse’s affairs a person may find they had a credit card they didn’t know about.

If a deceased person had a credit card in their name their spouse may wonder if they are liable for the debt on the credit card. This is a common situation that many people find themselves in. Many people have a credit card in just their own name. Unpaid debts are usually paid by the deceased’s estate. Everything a person owns at the time of their death is placed into an estate.

If the person had any debt, then the estate executor would use the estate’s assets to pay the debt during the probate process. At the time of death, the estate executor would notify creditors of the death and the creditors would let the executor know what debts remain unpaid. If there is not enough assets to cover those debts then the credit card companies may be out of luck as that debt is not secured like a mortgage would be.

A legal professional who is skilled in probate and estate administration is an excellent resource for a family who is going through the death of a loved one. They understand that settling an estate is a complex process and distributing property can be a considerable amount of work. An attorney can offer valuable assistance and help a family navigate the probate process.

When a spouse dies with debt there is a process to have that debt cleared. A probate attorney can help their client make sure all assets are distributed to beneficiaries and all debts paid to creditors.


Michael Ritigstein is a Founding Partner of the firm concentrating his efforts in supporting the firm's litigation, corporate and estate matters. Mr. Ritigstein graduated from the University of Delaware in 1996 and Seton Hall University School of Law in 2000. In 2007 he received a Masters of Law in Taxation with a concentration in Estate Planning, from Temple University's Beasley School of Law.

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