Who Is Responsible For A Deceased Mother’s Credit Card Debt?


The children of a parent who passes away are in a unique position that can seem very beneficial. When it comes to distributing assets after a parent has passed away, the children are second in line right behind the surviving spouse. But the situation is very different when it comes to credit card debt. If a mother passes away and leaves credit card debt behind, then there are several different ways that the debt could be taken care of.

The First Stop Is The Estate

The first entity that would be considered responsible for the mother’s credit card debt would be the estate created by the probate court upon her death. Before distributing any assets to beneficiaries, the probate court would instruct the estate administrator to pay all debts. This means that before the children would get any inheritance from their mother’s estate, the estate must first attempt to pay all debts. If there are not enough assets to pay back all of the creditors, then some credit cards would be out of luck and so would any beneficiaries.

Community Property

In states such as Arizona and California, there are community property laws that would go into effect when a mother passes on. These laws vary from state to state, but they generally say that the surviving spouse is responsible for any debt left behind. If mom passes away in a community property state, then dad could be responsible for the remaining credit card debt. If the debt forces dad to declare bankruptcy, then the credit card companies would get nothing.

Co-Owner Status

Sometimes credit card companies luck out if a mother passes away as the co-owner of a credit card account. Any credit card that has mom and dad as owners would always have dad to pay the bills if mom passed away. It is entirely possible that credit cards in which mom was a co-owner would still be left in good standing after mom had passed on. The only time there would be an issue with community property or assets of the estate would be for cards that were in mom’s name only. Any debt mom had with dad, or any accounts that had a co-signer, would have a second party to go to for payment.

What About The Children?

When it comes to distributing assets to beneficiaries, children of the deceased are generally at the top of the list. However, when it comes to paying the debts of the deceased, that list only consists of the assets of the estate or the assets of the spouse if community property laws are in effect. If the estate does not have enough assets and the remaining spouse declares bankruptcy, then no one would be responsible for paying the deceased mother’s credit card debt.

When a mother passes away, any debts that were left behind in her name only will be handled by her estate assets. In states that have community property laws, dad might wind up being responsible for any credit card debt mom left behind. But in nearly every case, the children would not have to worry about covering mom’s credit card debt after she passes away.