If Your Adult Child Dies, Do You Have To Pay His Credit Card Debt?

Reader Mat has a question. His uncle passed away a few days ago and his credit card company is telling his grandparents that if his bank account can’t pay the balance — they’ll have to. He’s wondering if this is true.

Mat says:

My uncle just pasted away a few days ago. My grandmother tried closing his Amazon Visa credit card account. When she was on the phone with the representative they informed her that if his bank account did not have the money to cover his debt, then my grandparents would become responsible for paying it all off. I remembered reading the article on taking your parents debt.. In the article you said it only becomes your debt when you are listed as a co signer. They are not co signers. Does that apply in death too, or are my grandparents going to end up gaining his debt?

First of all, we’re sorry to hear about your uncle, and sorry that his credit card company is misleading your grandparents.

No, you are not responsible for the debts of family members who have passed away in most circumstances. If you are in a joint account or have cosigned that debt, it gets more complicated and you may have some responsibility.

CreditCards.com has this to say about what happens to your credit card debt when you die:

Here’s the simple part: If the card was yours alone, with no joint account holders, the debt is yours alone, too.

When you die, your estate is responsible for paying off the balance. If the estate goes through probate, your administrator or executor will look at your assets and debts and, guided by law, determine in what order bills should be paid. Remaining assets will be distributed to heirs by following your will (if you have one), or state law (if you don’t).

Based on your description of the situation, your grandparents should disregard what they were told by the credit card company.

What happens to credit card debt after death [CreditCards.com]

Want more consumer news? Visit our parent organization, Consumer Reports, for the latest on scams, recalls, and other consumer issues.