Under normal circumstances, when a credit card belongs to one person, that person (the credit card holder) is responsible for settling the debt. If that person passes away, his or her estate is used to settle all debts and the estate administrator is responsible to see to this. Usually sources of funds like life insurance policies, retirement funds or other accounts payable upon death would be used to pay off debts. Any money left over will be distributed according to the will of the deceased or if he or she died intestate, then according to the Letters of Administration issued by the court.
But this scenario changes when the credit card account was jointly owned by you and your deceased spouse. This would mean both you and your deceased spouse were liable to pay debt incurred on the credit card so the credit card company can choose to pursue you (the surviving spouse) for payment. And if you live in a community property state such as Texas, California or Louisiana, you may also be responsible for the debt. Community property includes assets and debts accumulated during marriage.
If the debt under the credit card account is substantial, it may pose a problem. If you cannot afford to settle the debt, you need to weigh other options. One option is to file a bankruptcy petition. Bankruptcy is your right under the law to discharge debts that you cannot afford to pay. Assuming you did not dishonestly incur the credit card debt (like by purposely making lavish expenses on your card prior to filing for bankruptcy), then there is a chance that the credit card debt will be discharged during bankruptcy. This is for the bankruptcy judge to decide on.
So bankruptcy can help lower the amount of debt in the estate after death. If you wish to discuss this matter further, please call (813) 200 4133 for a free consultation.