Ask The Get Out of Debt Experts Authorized User

The Primary Card Holder Died and We Kept Using the Card as Authorized Users. – Craig

Written by Steve Rhode

“Dear Steve,

My wife’s mother died in 2006.

My wife is an authorized user on one of her mother’s credit cards. We did not notify the credit card company of my wife’s mother’s death in 2006. We simply assumed the debt on the card, took over making payments on the card as agreed, and have even used the card on occasion.

By virtue of making payments for nearly 7 years, and given that we have used the card occasionally, has the debt on this credit card in effect shifted to us, or is there some way for us to either reduce or eliminate it? Thank you.



Dear Craig,

Well that’s a mess, isn’t it.

If you had notified the card company at the time of the passing of the cardholder the company could only have looked to the estate of the deceased for payment. But seven years has gone by and that changes things dramatically.

At this point the greater risk is that you default and the company comes after you for fraud for continuing to use the card when you clearly knew the cardholder had died.

I would urge you to pay the debt off, do not use the card, and even think about doing a balance transfer to another card in your name or get an unsecured debt consolidation loan to pay off that balance.

From my point of view, on that card now, you’ve got a huge liability hanging over your head.

Please post your responses and follow-up messages to me on this in the comments section below.

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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