Bank Of America Blames You And Your Dead Mother For Financial Crisis

When Paul Kelleher called Bank of America to let them know his mother had died, the BoA rep tried to get Paul to pay off her account, even though he’s not legally obligated to. When he pointed out that BoA could go through the standard probate procedure like everyone else, the rep tried a different approach:

CSR: Oh, that’s really not the way to look at it. I know that if it were my mother, I’d pay it. That’s why we’re in the banking crisis we’re in: banks having to write off defaulted loans.

TalkingPointsMemo tracked down a former Bank of America CSR to ask whether this was a rogue employee or standard procedure. Can you guess the answer?

The former rep, who worked until quite recently at B of A’s Belfast, Maine-based collections unit, described for TPMmuckraker a system in which staffers responsible for making collections were routinely encouraged to mislead customers or those calling on their behalf, and were financially incentivized to do all they could to get payments.

Kelleher’s reported conversation, the former rep said, “sounds like how I would have attempted to collect” in such a situation. “I would have asked: ‘How do you plan on paying for this?'”

Remember, you’re not responsible for your dead parents’ credit card bills. And they probably didn’t cause the financial crisis, no matter what the credit card company tells you.

“How Theresa Hatt Caused The Financial Crisis” [Talking Points Memo] (Thanks to Pal, Art, Jason, and everyone else who sent this in!)
(Photo: mrkathika)


Edit Your Comment

  1. Nicholas Mantzoros says:

    Well I guess you can’t blame the rep for trying. He/She’s probably hurting for money more than the bank. When my friend died chase tried getting his dad to pay the $1500 credit card bill. They went away after a month or so.

    • MsAnthropy says:

      @Nicholas Mantzoros:

      Ah, yes. Sounds much like the conversation (and subsequent campaign of threatening and bullying) that my stepsister had with her brother’s mortgage lender when she called them to explain that, what with his having committed suicide, he wouldn’t be making any further payments. Lawyers had to be involved before they backed down on that one. Assholes.

    • samurailynn says:

      @Nicholas Mantzoros: Ugh… I remember working for a credit card’s collections department. If the cardholder was deceased, we were told to ask for them to mail in a death certificate and put the account up to be called again in a week. I guess if they didn’t mail it right away, we’d remind them again. It seems crass, but I suppose that if the company would just stop calling upon being told the cardholder was deceased, people would catch on and all the cardholders would be “dead”.

      • racermd says:

        @samurailynn: When my mother passed away a few years back, sending a certified copy of the death certificate was enough to handle just about any situation. Then again, my mother didn’t have any serious debts and everything was paid out of the estate that was set up, so…

        The key thing to remember is that you, personally, are not responsible for the debts of anyone else (unless you co-signed). Anyone harassing you to pay on their behalf can go suck it and are probably in violation of a number of various laws (check with a real lawyer for specifics because I am not one, BTW).

  2. richcreamerybutter says:

    The rep should be drawn and quartered. That is all.

  3. ADismalScience says:

    Well, I mean, it’s true. But the problem is that LIVING people aren’t paying debts, not dead people.

  4. opsomath says:

    Yes, I damn well can blame them for trying. There exists a procedure for debts being paid after your death. Guilting grieving family members into ponying up? That isn’t it.

    • floraposte says:

      @opsomath: Yup. One could legitimately respond “You’re as legally obligated to pay this debt as I am. How do you plan on paying it?”

    • kathyl says:

      @opsomath: Yes, maybe I’m cold-hearted, but I don’t feel any empathy for people who do obnoxious things because it’s “their job”. If you take a job that requires reprehensible behavior on your part, I refuse to have sympathy for you and will treat you the same as someone who is a jerk without getting paid to be one.

      • opsomath says:

        @kathyl: Word. How does you getting paid to be horrible make it better?

      • Cyberxion101 says:

        @kathyl: Hell, I tend to think it’s worse if you collect a paycheck for being a douche. It implies a lack of moral standards. Maybe it’s not as simple as all that, but then I’ve never taken a job that calls for me to compromise my humanity either…

      • Shadowman615 says:

        @kathyl: I’m 100% in agreement with you there. “Well, lets just put it this way. If it’s your job to jerk me around and try to scam me, it’s also going to be part of your job to deal with my abuse.”

  5. Julius Fleschner says:

    What if your relative is bernie madoff?

  6. zarex42 says:

    I agree, can’t blame her for trying. Recovering the debt via probate is long and costly.

    But she was correct – an enormous part of the financial crises was caused precisely by bad debt and defaulted loans, just as she said. Nothing wrong with that statement.

    • johnva says:

      @zarex42: Except that that isn’t really the main thing that caused the financial crisis. What really caused the worst of it was the banks vastly overleveraging themselves using exotic derivatives and bundling of loans. The mortgage crisis was just the catalyst that destroyed the huge and elaborate house of cards that the bankers built.

      • pal003 says:

        @johnva: I wish the “News” had highlighted this point more. It was the leveraging of Bank Debt versus Reserves that caused this – sometimes as high as 40:1

        So the banks Gambled 40 times their reserves on derivatives and “swaps” (fake insurance) – and the Taxpayers have to pay their gambling debt.


        “But decisions made at a brief meeting on April 28, 2004, explain why the problems could spin out of control. The agency’s failure to follow through on those decisions also explains why Washington regulators did not see what was coming.

        On that bright spring afternoon, the five members of the Securities and Exchange Commission met in a basement hearing room to consider an urgent plea by the big investment banks.

        They wanted an exemption for their brokerage units from an old regulation that limited the amount of debt they could take on.

        The five investment banks led the charge, including Goldman Sachs, which was headed by Henry M. Paulson Jr. Two years later, he left to become Treasury secretary.”

      • zarex42 says:


        There were many causes; if the loans were good and repaid the exotic bundling wouldn’t matter one bit.

        • johnva says:

          @zarex42: Yes, but it was inevitable that the loans would go bad. The reason for that is that they were loans against wildly inflated home values that weren’t grounded in any sort of economic reality. A good percentage of people just couldn’t sustain those mortgages unless they could sell their houses for more than they bought them for. And then once some people started defaulting, it created a vicious cycle that guaranteed more people would (foreclosures led to lower home prices led to more foreclosures, etc). Now was all this irresponsible on the part of both the banks and the borrowers? Absolutely yes. But you think that was the root cause, you don’t understand the real crisis. Banks could absorb some percentage of mortgage losses, and in fact they plan for exactly that. The over-leveraging of the debt that went bad is what really killed them. That can multiply your profits in good times, but also multiply your losses in bad times, which ends up meaning you cannot sustain nearly as many mortgages going bad and still remain solvent.

          The analogy I like to use is fire and gasoline: people not being able to pay their mortgages was the fire, but the banks’ fiscal mismanagement was the gasoline. People taking out speculative, irresponsible mortgages were the spark, but the banks absolutely were the ones who created the dangerous situation.

    • mythago says:

      @zarex42: Hey, maybe BofA should just seize the money from your bank account. Sure, they could try to recover their money legally from the person who actually owes the money, but that’s so long and costly!

    • Jim Topoleski says:

      @zarex42: Actually its not even to the whole truth. Bad debt and defaulted loans where part of the problem, but the financial crisis was created by greedy bank execs hoping that for every defaulted loan and bad credit line they created, 2-3 would actually pay theirs and make the bank money in interest.

      Couple this with trying to hide the bad loans they did create by pawning them off with a few good loans to people who didnt know better….. AND you get why bank regulation was a good thing…. because people cant be trusted to act in the best interests of their company when their own best interests in making a huge bonus outweighs it.

      • Chris Thompson says:

        @Jim Topoleski: Actually that’s not even the whole truth. If it were just the mortgages themselves, we would be down but not badly. The real issue is the securitized assets tied to the mortgages such as the Mortgage Backed Securities (MBS), Collatorized Debt Obligations (CDO) and Credit Default Swaps (CDS). The losses in these assets are so large the banks won’t even disclose them. In all actuality, most of the big banks are completely insolvent due to the risky securities tied to the risky loans.

        • ionerox says:

          @Chris Thompson: Thanks for posting that! Most people don’t look past the “people took out bad mortgages” or “banks gave out bad mortgages” to really see the bigger truth behind it.

          Bad loans can be written off without much harm. Badly created CDO and CDS can’t- they are just too big. And when the insurer for those deals fails… banks who did up the CDO or CDS has no where to go to when the portfolio doesn’t perform.

      • zarex42 says:

        @Jim Topoleski: The banks are part of the problem, but people not paying their debts back is indeed the largest cause. Ultimately this is the core reason; if people simply paid their debt, the banks wouldn’t be in trouble at all, despite their best efforts.

  7. Rolcol says:

    So… families of people that know they’re going to die and start spending and living like millionaires don’t have to pay off their debt after they die?

    • Bailen says:

      @Rolcol: I am intrigued by this too… Do they eventually collect somehow? Does it officially have to go through some estate procedure? I cant imagine that the bank just lets these debts go. Also does anyone know the process for this in Canada? I have payed off a few relatives debts once they have passed away, I just called up the companies once I got the the bills and payed them with money from the estate, was there a different process I should have followed?

      • Nicholas Mantzoros says:


        well legally you’re responsible if the person who dies has an estate left. Any debts are taken from that. If however there is no estate when that person dies, then the debt can’t be collected and it’s “written off” what exactly that entails, i don’t know.

        • howtragic says:

          @Nicholas Mantzoros:
          You’re not responsible for people’s debts unless you co-signed on the loan. The bank was wait out of line asking this. My guess is that they ask it because a few suckers pay.

          The ignorance of most people about these things really makes me wish they would teach financial literacy in high school. People are too easily suckered because they simply do not understand how the process works.

          • Coles_Law says:

            @howtragic: I’m not certain this would even be covered under basic financial literacy-it’s not something people face too often, so I don’t blame the average person for being confused. It was very low of the CSR, who knew better, to imply otherwise.

            • Rectilinear Propagation says:

              @Coles_Law: It doesn’t happen often but it’s probably something that’ll happen to most people at least once. It didn’t come up at all in my Economics class though.

      • Shadowman615 says:

        @Bailen: Yes, the different process you might have followed would have been taking direction from legal counsel on however to handle those debts.

        But if there was enough money in the estate, and the amounts were small enough that it wasn’t worth getting a lawyer, and you don’t like being hounded…well you get the idea.

    • Stephmo says:

      The sad thing is that the credit card company is actually first in line with probate. Unsecured, incurred debts are the first to be paid from the estate.

      You can live like a millionaire, whatever you like and die. But your family can’t inherit anything until probate’s done. Meaning that you can’t take anything until debts are settled against the estate.

      It is costly for companies to go through the process, which is why those with secured debts (auto & boat loans) against the estate will quickly agree to take easy turn ins or come up with an easy assumption for someone in the family to take over the loan rather than go through probate. Credit Card companies doing this are trying to save cash, time and the worry that the estate may not have anything.

      But, yeah, if grandma blings out her walker and decides she’s going in head-to-toe Prada and a fur-lined casket…the kids can probably kiss their college funds goodbye if she put that on Visa.

      • dabub says:

        @Stephmo: Or she can give all her money away first, then bling herself up in head to toe prada and fur with her CC and then they are SoL.

      • GearheadGeek says:

        @Stephmo: The “kiss their college funds goodbye” would only be true if their college funds are in an account in Grandma’s name, or they were depending on Grandma to kick off and leave them money they’d later use for college. If the grandkids have college funds in their own names and there’s debt left over after Grandma’s estate is tapped out, the grandkids keep their college funds and the creditors have to suck it up. While they’re not entitled to inherit anything from the estate until creditors are paid, they’re not obligated to pay anything from their own pocket either.

    • MsAnthropy says:


      I have wondered about this. Do credit card companies suddenly start canceling your cards and cutting your credit lines on the grounds that “you are old” in order to minimize their risk, or what?

      • Stephmo says:

        @MsAnthropy: A credit card company can’t cancel your card or lower your credit line because your old – that’s age discrimination.

        They have to come up with a non-age-based reason to do it. Now, if you suddenly start a pattern of spending that is abnormal, they can freeze your credit line immediately to “investigate.” But this is also where not using a card for a year or so is grounds for anyone to have a credit line slashed.

        @dabub: As long as Grammy remembers to sign over the house too! And anything else that can be part of the estate…but I believe any last-minute shuffling of assets can be considered fraud by the probate court. So you gotta catch her a year or so out. But if you mention the fur lined coffin, I think you’ve got a plan. :)

  8. jmujeff says:


    I’ve dealt with a similar type of situation, it has nothing to do with “spending and living like millionares” and everything to do with debts in accounts that can be as small as $200 and maybe as high as $10,000+. Just your everyday average credit card or business debt. Horrible, life altering catastrophies can happen to people without a moments notice, you can’t always plan for things like this.

    Now if someone runs out and puts a Mercedes on their card with the knowledge that they’re not going to pay it off, then BoA would and probably could pursue that.

  9. crichton007 says:

    Yeah, too many people dying to get out of their bad loans.

  10. mindchaotica says:

    and i am happy i am no longer with BofA cause yeah that sucks.

  11. StealthySwede_GitEmSteveDave says:

    Since Belfast used to be one of MBNA’s locations, was this a MBNA “person”, or someone brought on after the switch? I can assure you that there was a definite change in personnel after the switch, especially when BA relaxed the dress code. It took less than three years for MBNA’s standards/employee pride in their work to pretty much disappear.

    • lauy says:


      I have to disagree. As a former BofA (not MBNA) employee, I was always treated with an attitude by legacy MBNA associates. They are and continue to be uppity jerks. Bank of America call center associates have always “behaved” much better on the phone. This is an opinion formed from dealing with them as both an associate and customer. Again, an opinion, but it was formed after several years dealing with both groups. Maybe it’s a West Coast/East Coast attitude thing, I don’t know. But service went WAY down in Card Services after the MBNA acquisition IMHO.

  12. pecan 3.14159265 says:

    Going through probate may be long and costly, but this isn’t a small business owner trying to collect on a debt owed to her. This is a rep of a large banking company that can surely go through probate, just like everyone else, to get the money owed to them. The OP’s mother died, and this rep wants to go around the system to collect money? He was smart to tell her no, and to tell her to get in line with whoever else wants to collect from the estate.

    Even if what the rep said about defaulted loans may be true, it doesn’t make it okay for her to say that to him when he called them to inform them his mother died. She probably should have just said to him, “I’m sorry for your loss, here is how Bank of America may go about collecting the money for this outstanding debt,” and go into the probate process, or just tell him thanks for telling the bank, and to call if he has any questions.

  13. rickinsthelens says:

    When my first wife died, we had several credit cards. The cards we held jointly, I was jointly responsible for, and paid off. The card she held in her name, I was not responsible for. I told them she had died, and had to provide proof. Then, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office sent a letter, wanting proof that she had died to clear the debt. I found this odd as we lived in Wisconsin, and had never lived in Arizona, but the company must have had some sort of office there.

    On a similar story, I had my wallet stolen, and reported my cards stolen. One card, for J.C. Penney, was used. J.C. Penney came after me for the bill. It turms out the cardf in my wallet (which I didn’t use ever) was my deceased wife’s card. J.C. Penney wanted proof she was dead, so I gave them the plot number in the cemetery, and told them to go collect from her. This is a company that refused to pay her life insurance policy she had paid on for ten years (I faxed a death certificate also). I still don’t do business with Penney’s. Companies are not your friends, but I don’t understand why they have to be so cold hearted at times. It is easy to say someone is dead, but once a death certificate is presented, that should end the conversation.

    • GildaKorn says:

      @rickinsthelens: J.C. Penney didn’t pay out on life insurance? Did you hire a lawyer or contact the state insurance commissioner? This might be a more interesting story than a one-off comment from a bank CSR.

    • Nighthawke says:

      @rickinsthelens: I agree with Gilda. I’d get a good lawyer in on it and cook off a nice EECB at theirs over that.

      If they do owe you money and they are hemming and hawing over it, time to crack the whip!

  14. Russ Savage says:

    i hate bank of america so much that once i hear dit costs them 1$ every time you call.. so i called them a couple times every day for a month just to attempt to hurt them. sad huh..

    • samson says:

      @Russ Savage:

      Why does this code popup when I want to make a commnent

      @”#c10575131″>Russ Savage:

    • samson says:

      @Russ Savage:

      Well anyway. I know how you feel. I hated my cell phone company so I called them every day for almost six months yelling at them. Some times I feel like an ant. I got a some credits but basically they had just pissed me off. Yelling at whoever answered my call. I would get creative.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Same happened to me when my mom passed away unexpectedly. Wells Fargo has taken her money and even after flying to her home branch (in another state), they still can’t explain where the money went…only that it *should* be there.

  16. kwsventures says:

    Both sides have good points. … I had a neighbor that had a terminal illness. He got a $30,000.00 cash advance on his credit card about 4 months prior to his death. Then he went on a spending spree, buy all kinds of stuff for relatives and friends. He had nothing much in his estate. He had given most of his personal stuff away prior to his passing. When he died, the credit card company was stiffed. Do you have any questions why credit card interest rates are so high for high risk deadbeats?

    • slopirate says:

      @kwsventures: I have to think God frowns upon this sort of thing. It’s like going on one last binge before rehab. (One last sin before the afterlife.)

    • David Brodbeck says:

      @kwsventures: That’s not risk free, of course. There are stories out there of people who were given six months to live, quit their job, went on a spending spree…and then didn’t die. Oops.

      • Anonymous says:

        @David Brodbeck: As someone who pretty much cheated death (a two-year period of 15 surgeries which I wound up in ICU twice, was fed by a feeding tube, shuffled around by seven doctors, and was told twice I had a 50-50 shot at survival), I can tell you, your mindset changes once you face extinction. I don’t blame the guy at all for going out with a bang.

        Thankfully, I’m beating my ‘2 year window’ by a year, and getting healthier every day. But the world looks a helluva lot different now.

        …Now those people with large credit lines that went on ‘freebie’ sprees right before claiming bankruptcy, knowing they couldn’t pay back the bill, those we can all throw darts at.

  17. savdavid says:

    Question: If I have power of attorney for my Mom’s finances am I responsible for her credit card bills after her death or are the bills no longer needing to be paid?

    • mythago says:

      @savdavid: See a lawyer in your state.

    • shanecrow99 says:


      A Power of Attorney is only for the living. In other words, if you are POA for a relative then as long as they are alive then you can act on their behalf. After the relative dies then the POA becomes null and void. I would think that if mother’s finances are in her name then you would not be liable for the debt owed after her death. Usually all you have to do is just notify the creditors that your mother has passed away and they will want you to send the death certificate as proof.

      • mythago says:

        @shanecrow99: POA is a legal document and you need to be very careful with this – you’re empowered to act on behalf of the person for whom you have POA. I would not make any assumptions, and that’s why savdavid ought to see an attorney.

  18. savdavid says:

    I guess that little ole $25 billion bailout from the taxpayers didn’t help BoA?

  19. bohemian says:

    We are in the economic crisis because blind greed was allowed to run rampant and nobody stopped the fools. Heck, they are still doing is wasting stimulus money on stadium naming rights.
    This just makes me want to find a financial sector CEO and beat them profusely.

    • slopirate says:

      @bohemian: Why change if there are no consequences?

      Letting them fail would have been the best way to teach them.

      • samson says:


        These guys play by different rules. Get our money and still waste it on stadiums. The captin of the Titanic was still the captain even as the ship sank. I get to name the deck chairs.

  20. FuryOfFirestorm says:

    Unless this guy’s mom was a bank CEO who splurged on $50 million jets and $350,000 carpets, then no, she is not responsible for the finacial crisis. Bank of America can suck dick, eat shit, and go to hell!

  21. Terradea says:

    Today, Chicago based La Guadalupana Wholesale Co. Inc., a 60 year old Hispanic owned company, is taking emergency legal action, in the form of a Temporary Restraining Order, against Bank of America claiming the bank has illegally and purposely damaged its business and reputation. When Guadalupana asked for a little more time to pay on a loan, BoA not only said “no,” they called La Guadalupana customers to demand payment.

    Bank of America = TARP (Troubled Assets Relief Program)

    La Guadalupana = THARD (Troubled Hispanic Assets Relief Denial)

    • humphrmi says:

      @Terradea: BofA probably has a lien on La Guadalupana’s account receivables. I’m not trying to justify it, BofA sucks, but calling a company’s debtors for payment on AR is pretty standard practice.

  22. TorrentFreak says:

    I would go into her house and take everything out of it. Strip the place of anything of value before they get their hands on it. You are already paying Bank of America anyway, YOUR tax money is going to them. So screw them. They want their money, a stripped house is all you get.

  23. Feminist Whore says:

    Wow, I blame my dead mother for the crappy state of the world these days too.

    The world’s been downright shitty since she left.

  24. arl84 says:

    shame on that rep. I wouldn’t say they directly encourage the reps to try and collect in situations like this – they never write anything they can say, and never say anything they can wink. They just tell you to do what you can to make your numbers. And this was pretty low.

  25. tptcat says:

    My Mom passed away a couple years ago pretty tragically. I was a BofA customer at the time and so I had to go through them for all of the insurance settlement crap. The local branch and phone reps were unbelievably rude, incompetent, uncompassionate, and, worst of all, unprofessional. Needless to say, as soon as all the settlement BS was finished, I switched banks and never looked back. Fuck BofA. Fuck them hard. I hope the company dies a painful death.

  26. Grrrrrrr, now with two buns made of bacon. says:

    I would have told the rep to just go ahead and use the portion of that bailout money that I just gave them to pay off the account.

    The reason why we’re in the banking crisis we’re in is not because somebody died and left a balance, but because of a bunch of greedy scumbags who work for huge financial institutions (like BOA, for example) loaned out money to people who they knew couldn’t repay it and disguised their shitty loans as prime investment grade instruments.

  27. ranchgal says:

    Not all guilt is in bad taste and not all bad taste is combined with guilt but this one… the bank reps resort to pulling a guilt trip to collect a debt after one’s own mother’s death??!! Unfuckingbelievable.

  28. Anonymous says:

    We went through this exact same thing with BofA. My wife’s mother died, leaving a balance on her credit card. My wife handled her Mom’s finances toward the end, so she was listed on the accounts as an authorized contact.

    BofA called us for a year afterwards and tried to guilt us into paying it off. They used every trick in the book to make us think this was our debt and that we were responsible for it. I used to be a bill collector for Citibank, so I wasn’t falling for it, but these people were brazen as hell and utterly without shame. They worked on my wife constantly, explaining how paying it off was “the right thing to do” and how it would “honor her mother.”

    I finally had to write them a letter basically telling them to go to Hell and that we knew we weren’t responsible for and were not going to pay it.

  29. TPS Reporter says:

    When my grandmother passed away a couple of years ago and my dad and uncle were no help, I stepped in and took care of the funeral home (she had insurance for the burial) etc. Since she had lived with my wife and I we got all the phone calls for the bills. She was 93 and on SS. She had been in a nursing home and there was no money. Two or three of the creditors looked up her SSN number in their system, looked up some type of national database that shows the person who that SN belongs to as being reported deceased, saw it was true and told me they will mark it in her account and I never heard from them again. Of course maybe her name was in a databse since she received SS and the funeral home is the one who notified the gov’t.

  30. Phexerian says:

    What if your parent dies and leaves everything to you in a trust and thus bypassing probate court? Can a bank claim that the deceased estate must pay back the debt since the estate does not have to go through probate?

  31. pal003 says:

    Discussion of this article pointed that Many People Did Not Know They Were Not Legally Responsible for These Types of Debt for their Parents or other Relatives.

    Most people don’t know Estate/Probate Law or even Basic Consumer Rights – especially regarding Collections.

    Thank you Consumerist and Consumer Reports for educating us – and helping us fight for our rights.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Want to make the banks and large corporations squirm? Pay off your debt, cancel your credit cards, and downsize your life so you can live off of cash only. Sure, it will cause jobs to be lost, large companies to fold, and banks to close up, but that’s already happening. If enough of those unemployed can find it within themselves to work together and pool their remaining resources to start their own businesses and run them within their means, imagine the kind of small business controlled economy that would emerge from this recession. I know this is a Utopian view, but wouldn’t it be nice if it somehow happened?

  33. Bryan Price says:

    My brother’s stepfather passed and the banks kept calling his house to collect. There was no probate to collect. His wife would tell them that he was dead, that there was nothing that they could do, and that their family was not responsible for the debt, and to stop calling.

    That was a rough year, he lost his mother, our father (we’re halves! :)), his stepfather and his mother-in-law in 12 months time, in that order. I made two of those funerals. The second one, the mother-in-law, really just to show my support. I didn’t hear about his stepfather until afterward, and there wasn’t much of anything there.

  34. richcreamerybutter says:

    On a related note, my experience with Midland National Life Insurance was very positive. They were incredibly kind and helpful, and the paperwork was minimal. I had never dealt with this sort of thing and figured it would take a while to settle. Within ten days, they sent all my account materials. Later on I called specifically to thank them for being so awesome during a horrible time.

    Great customer service really makes all the difference when you’re barely coping, and paperwork is a struggle.

  35. newfenoix says:

    My wife went through a similar situation with BoA. She became a widow in 2006. Several months later, after we moved into together, she began to get letters from BoA wanting her to pay off a credit card that her late husband had. The phone calls began shortly afterward. When questioned about why my wife should pay the debt, the bank stated that after they went over the card history, they discovered that he had bought $32.00 worth of food. And they felt that since she lived in the same house, she benefited from it and thus should pay. I still have the letter, btw.

    My wife had never needed an attorney before so I took the situation up with mine who in turn notified BoA and the AG’s office. The AG sent them a C&D letter. That was in late 2007. We got a letter from BoA this week stating that they had canceled the debt.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Considering that banks create credit from nothing and don’t even risk their own money, then bilk taxpayers for trillions and send it offshore, I don’t think anyone dead or alive should be paying them a dime.

  37. gbroiles says:

    Some comments from an attorney who handles probates in California:

    Heirs/beneficiaries/executors are not liable for the debts of a decedent – but debts are paid before anyone inherits.

    While many people talk about “avoiding probate” – and generally it is worth avoiding – when someone dies with minimal assets and significant debt, it can be helpful, because the probate process forces creditors to comply with specific procedures and deadlines if they want to collect. In my experience, creditors and collection agencies are incapable of or unwilling to comply with the statutory procedure, and just send a series of alternately begging and threatening letters.

    In California, if a debt isn’t collected within one year of the death, it’s absolutely uncollectible.

    If the decedent made gifts before their death that made them insolvent (their debts > their remaining assets), theoretically the creditors could sue to roll back the gifts as “fraudulent transfers” intended to prevent collection. Realistically, this is pretty unlikely.

    Most collection activity works (to the extent that it does) because the debtor(s) are ignorant of their rights.

  38. Anonymous says:

    I had an account with BA from the time I was in elementary school($1 a week bank book program) and after I was 20 I took the money I had($600) out and my grandmother kept the account (for my son) going until she died when I was 52.

    There was $800 in there and when I tried to withdraw the money for my son they said they had no record of it even though I had all the documentation on their own paper. they said they just close accounts that haven’t been used for a while or the branch had closed or had a fire or something. They said to check the site for unclaimed money on line.

    I said “you don’t keep track of records?” They said no. I tried contacting everyone for several months to no avail. I finally gave up but I took the $400,000 out of that bank that my grandmother had in there and moved them elsewhere. She had probably millions of dollars through there in the last.60 years. I wonder how much they bilked her (and countless others)for.

    They have no room to talk. They used OUR money to make theirs. They’re the ones who misused it to make poor investments not us! And we are still at their mercy!

  39. Imaginary says:

    When the credit card companies are allowed to promise college kids free money then there’s a problem. Then when guys like this are allowed to harass people then claim they’re just doing they’re job they should be beaten. No I’m serious. If I ever meet one of these schmucks who call me threatening me I’d beat them for every word they said to me and felt good about. If you feel good about working for companies that are ruining others lives then you are a sad little person.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Just a caution on this subject. No, you are not liable for your dead parent’s credit card bills, BUT having just lived through this nightmare, you as a successor trustee CAN be sued by unscrupulous debt collection lawyers for their debt and unless you respond by paying other lawyers to defend you, you can be made liable for the debt by default.

  41. Anonymous says:

    My mom has paid her mortage to the bank for seven years and only $4k has gone to principle. Her payments are $1300 a month….so they’ve gotten more than 80k from her and she has only paid down the loan 4K?? This bizzare notion that we need to bail out or protect banks is nonsense.. They have been ripping off people for years. They are the ones that have borrowed 30 times the true value of thier assets and we the tax payers have to make up the difference? The most you could ever borrow against a house is $100 percent equity. They were able to leverage what they owned by 3 thousand percent.. The “crisis” is really the apathy and lack of outrage from regular people who now have to accept a drastically lower standard of living…While the rich might have to wait for next years mercedes…………. or learjet

  42. Anonymous says:

    My mom has paid her mortage to the bank for seven years and only $4k has gone to principle. Her payments are $1300 a month….so they’ve gotten more than 80k from her and she has only paid down the loan 4K?? This bizzare notion that we need to bail out or protect banks is nonsense.. They have been ripping off people for years. They are the ones that have borrowed 30 times the true value of thier assets and we the tax payers have to make up the difference? The most you could ever borrow against a house is $100 percent equity. They were able to leverage what they owned by 3 thousand percent.. The “crisis” is really the apathy and lack of outrage from regular people who now have to accept a drastically lower standard of living…While the rich might have to wait for next years mercedes…………. or learjet

  43. tworld says:

    Whenever ANYBODY tries to strong arm me into doing something, I cheerily request they send me their proposal by MAIL, and I’ll be more than happy to look it over, and to make sure their name and phone number is in the letter so I can get back directly to them.

    Guess what, they never want to send their proposal in writing and that’s the end of the conversation. Case closed.

  44. Hybriddeathdealer says:

    Banks are in trouble because they bet on the economy, off the books, using structured investment vehicles, low doc and no doc loans. There’s about 15 trillion in American mortgage debt that the banks own. (No way of knowing for sure.) The TARP money was supposed to buy about 5% of that debt, but to date, not one has been purchased and THAT is why banks are in trouble. The rest of the world is pissed at our government for letting these trash & mortgage backed securities get rated and sold. They are blaming us and they’re right, it is our government’s fault. The TARP isn’t working, because it was a bad idea Gordon Brown had, that Henry Paulson followed and there isn’t enough money to make it work even if they did do it right. The stimulus package won’t work, because simply put, it’s a giant pork package, wrapped with a pancake of old ideas and they (ALL of our politicians.) simply don’t get it! You can only fix this mess by putting Americans back in homes, put a value on them, (any current fair value), and let the money flow in. Kill the power grid, make fuel cells available nation wide and fund a new medical system based on Japan’s model. (NO, not Canada’s failing model.) THEN we might have a chance, but blaming the client is what American business and the political right excel at. Jail Baby, Jail! :)

  45. BeFrugalNotCheap says:

    Christ, his mom is DEAD and the prick has the BALLS to not only give out 3rd party info but tell the guy he is obligated to pay the card off? How….GHOULISH. Too bad he did’nt tape the call.

  46. Anonymous says:

    My Mother recently passed away and when my Father called to cancel her BoA Visa they made note of it and ran through their current list of special offers, trying to sign him up, so he whipped out his BoA Visa and gave them the account # and told them to cancel that one too. Bad form BoA, bad form.


  47. CrowMignon says:

    Here’s a fun one:

    My wife died in 2001, leaving behind a pile of medical bills $100K+. The hospital’s grand plan was for them to all go to collections and get paid from there – fine by me. I was paying them a set amount every month for almost two years, about $13K total, until I noticed new charges from the hospital starting to appear. I called the hospital and the collector’s and ended up requesting, as is my right, the detailed charge information as well as proof of debt. A couple of months go by and I heard nothing. I called them twice to no result. On the third call I finally got hold of a collector who explained to me that they couldn’t even prove I owed the debt, much less explain where it all came from. They wrote the rest off.

  48. baristabrawl says:

    Don’t you insure against death as a lender? I know our credit union does.