Dad recently passed away. He had one credit card in his name, with mom as an authorized user. Balance on the card is approx 10K. They live in WA state, which is generally a community property state, however they legally disolved the community property agreement and all assets were put in moms name months ago in case she passed first. All assets would then go in a trust for his nursing home care. He has no assets whatsoever. She is living on social security and cannot afford to pay this bill.
Is mom responsible for the credit card bill? What does she need to send to the credit card company? What should she tell them?”
First off, I’m so sorry to hear about the loss of your father. These are trying times indeed.
My mother just passed away last year so the emotions of the loss and having to deal with similar issues, hit home for me as well.
The good news here is there is a process to deal with such situations. Since your mother was only an authorized user she is not responsible for the debt. But we need to make sure the creditor is informed of your fathers passing as soon as possible.
There are several ways a creditor is notified of the death of a responsible party. In the case of my mother the funeral home notified Social Security she had passed and within a week her credit card had been cancelled by the bank before we could notify them. Apparently some banks monitor the Social Security death index. Smart.
I previously wrote How to Handle the Bills After the Death of a Loved One that lays out a number of steps to take.
But in this case, if you know there was only one credit card, I think I can help simplify it for you.
To make sure this is dealt with quickly and comprehensively I would suggest you send a letter to the creditor by some sort of traceable means to prove delivery and include:
- An original copy of the certified death certificate.
- A copy of the last monthly statement.
- A letter explaining your father passed away, the cards have been destroyed, and the account should be closed.
Typically this will deal with the account and it will be closed.
Most importantly, your mother should NOT use that credit card at all, any more.
Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.