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Credit card debt after death

One of the primary advantages of creating an estate plan is protecting your property and assets from creditors who may come after them after you pass away. In general, any debt that you have accrued in your lifetime must be settled by your estate and does not pass on to an heir. Creditors, especially credit card lenders, may make wildly inaccurate claims to your family about what their responsibility is to your debt, so it is wise to have an estate plan firmly in place that can deal with any of these issues before they arise. It is also helpful to make sure that your family is well-educated about their rights and obligations when it comes to your estate and your debt.

It is worth noting that Arizona is one of only a few community property states, which can complicate the matter for surviving spouses. If you accrue credit card debt during your marriage, your surviving spouse may be held liable. Beyond the liability of a spouse, however, credit card debt does not transfer to another family member unless the account is jointly held by that other family member.

Despite the clarity of the law, credit card collectors are notoriously aggressive about pursuing repayment from family members who are not liable for the balances. If you or someone you love is facing constant collection tactics from a credit card collector over the debts of deceased family member, you are entitled to inform them of the limitations the law places on collecting debt after a debtor passes away. If aggressive collection tactics continue, do not hesitate to enlist the help of an experienced attorney who can help you put an end to collections.

Of course, a properly constructed estate plan can help avoid much of this unpleasantness. If you are interested in establishing your own estate plan or revisiting and revising an existing plan, an experienced attorney can help you create the right plan for your needs and ensure that you and your loved ones are properly protected from frustrating collection tactics.

Source: findlaw, "Debts After Death," accessed Jan. 20, 2017

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