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Should you continue to pay your dead relatives' credit cards?

Many Pennsylvania residents wonder what will become of their relatives' credit card debt after those family members die. In some instances, adult children and other relatives continue to pay bills for parents or older family members who have passed away. Experts say that most relatives who are making such credit card payments should stop; such lenders should not continue to collect payments on decedents' accounts after their death.

In most cases, the person who handles the execution of your relative's estate should also manage their relationship with their creditors. An estate executor or trustee is given access to certain accounts, and those outstanding debts are paid off. Those debts are paid according to state law, so long as assets outweigh debts.

If, however, your relative had more debt than asset holdings, the debt is written off by the credit card company. This is considered a cost of doing business. Although decedents' estates sometimes cover full or partial payments for card companies, family members are not required to continue payment after that person's death.

Relatives who have been paying outstanding debts for their deceased relatives should contact the credit card companies who administer the consumer debt. Official documentation such as a death certificate may be needed to establish that the owner of the account is no longer alive to pay for the debt. These companies may be contacted by phone or mail.

Do not continue to suffer financial hardship because of someone else's consumer debt. Clients who want to be rid of their unfair financial obligations may benefit from the advice of a Pennsylvania bankruptcy attorney about the state of their financial affairs. These professionals may provide additional information about clients' legal and financial rights after the death of a beloved relative.

Source: Fox Business, "Stop Paying Your Late Mother's Credit Card Debt" Sally Herigstad, Mar. 18, 2014

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Joshua Z. Goldblum, Attorney at Law
826 Bustleton Pike Suite 101B
Feasterville, PA 19053

Phone: 215-322-2745
Fax: 215-953-9973
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