Avoid probate at all costs. A lot of us have heard it. As an attorney, I’ve certainly said it. When the first spouse passes, assets held jointly become those of the living spouse and avoid probate. Although this is a nice outcome for most, can the same be said for debt?
The short answer is, it depends. Credit cards tend to be issued in one person’s name. Most times, with couples, an additional authorized user may be listed on the credit card. The authorized user is not responsible for any remaining debt on the credit card if the owner of the card dies.
So what’s the best way to handle a situation as described above? In Ohio, the executor of the estate should notify creditors of the death. Credit card debt is largely unsecured, so often times, the company may not be able to collect unless there are assets going through probate. Credit card companies may hound people to pay the debt of the deceased, but always demand proof of liability. Unless the surviving spouse is a joint owner, that may be the end of the road for the credit card company. If that does not solve the problem, contact your local AlerStallings attorney.