How to cancel dead parent’s credit cards. Remember that when closing down a deceased relative’s accounts, any outstanding balances are to paid by their estate, not their heirs. [Kiplinger]


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  1. QuantumRiff says:

    Just recently got a tip from a hospice worker.. when a family member dies, order 30 copies of the death certificates.. You WILL need them.. and it saves you having to drive back to the courthouse multiple times to get them..

  2. theblackdog says:

    Good to know, but are the credit companies willing to wait while the estate is probated, or will they smack the estate with late fees up the ass because they “didn’t pay on time”?

  3. Major-General says:

    Generally, I found most companies very accomodating, once we got past the whole cardholder is dead stage. I didn’t have a single one ask for a death certificate, though I did have to write some checks to a couple.

  4. LankanDude says:

    what do you mean by estate?

    Does this mean when a family member dies
    -all his bills and debts should be paid by selling his/her assets?
    -If that’s not enough to cover the bills then rest doesn’t needed to be pay?
    -What is no one cares/handles the bills? then can the banks/companies can sell the assets and recover the costs?

  5. CumaeanSibyl says:

    @LankanDude: Under US law, as I understand it, one’s debts cannot be passed on to one’s heirs, so creditors have to settle with the estate for what they can get, in a similar fashion to bankruptcy.

    As for cases in which there are no family members and no will, I believe probate courts handle the distribution of assets to debtors and other such, but I’m not certain. I also have no idea how it’s done in other countries.

  6. James Sumners says:

    I had to deal with this last year. All you have to do is call the company and inform them of the situation. If they can’t do it at the number you called, they will give you a number to call. Once informed, the account is frozen as of the date of death. It doesn’t accrue any interest, and you don’t have to make any payments on it (monthly). The credit card company will most likely, as my father’s two creditors did, sell the debt to an estate collections agency. The agency will work with whomever is appointed personal representative, executor, or whatever. You will probably find it easiest to forward them to your estate lawyer (and I highly recommend you get one). Depending on the value of the estate, they will most likely settle for less. For example, my father’s estate paid 57% of one debt and 74% of the other. I let my lawyer’s office coordinate the settlements, and I just had to write the checks.

  7. Sudonum says:

    I got 6 “certified” copies of my mothers death certificate when she dies in July. I still have 4 of them.
    @theblackdog: My experience has been that they will wait without any additional charges. I’ve even had an offer of $0.50 on the dollar if I could pay them right away, before the sale of the house.

    In my mothers case, I sent all three credit reporting agencies a certified letter explaining the situation, a copy of the death certificate, and a copy of the portion of the will designating me the Executor and Trustee. I also hired an attorney to file the will with the county and provided him with a list of creditors. He sent them all letters along with a copy of the death certificate. Same with closing out her bank accounts. Had a check issued in the name of the trust.

    Also check you own states laws as they vary as to how someone can file a claim against the estate.

  8. Sudonum says:

    And send the letters to the credit agencies right away as there are some scum who “harvest” the SSN of deceased persons to try and open accounts in their name and score a quick hit. Don’t know how they get them, but it was tried with my mothers SSN.

  9. Alan Thomas says:

    The Social Security Administration publishes the numbers (and DOBs) of the deceased. It’s available on a variety of websites, especially geneological sites such as and

    Any creditor trusting a published bad number to issue credit is being particularly negligent.

  10. forgottenpassword says:

    Hmmm… I never knew that debts of a deceased person (like credit card debts) had to be paid by what they leave behind. That’s a bit depressing.

    I always had this idea that IF I ever had to commit suicide (like if I had a fatal disease) …. that I would just max out my cards, convert the items to cash & leave it all to my relatives after I died.

    Looks like now I would have to sell everything I own, give the cash proceeds & whatever I have in my bank accounts (withdraw cash) to my relatives “off the books” (no paper trail).

    Credit card companies should not get to come around like vultures after my death to pick at my bones. This way…. they wont! :D