How do we, with a power of attorney, take control of a credit card account in the cardholder's nickname?

A fellow caregiver asked...

After the principal cardholder was incapacitated, the agent appointed in the power of attorney found bills for a credit card in the principal's nickname rather than a legal name. The actual card has not yet been located. How do we assume control of account and verify accuracy?

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

You're in a rather unusual position, and very well may fear that there are other debts looming out there to be paid.

What will get the credit card company's attention the fastest is to take action to close down the account now in the principal's nickname, which is probably a good idea anyway. This should trigger a complete final accounting of any outstanding balance and will allow you to verify any additional charges. It is also a necessary step to take to end liability should the card have fallen into the hands of a stranger who is quick to run up a tab.

You may need to provide the credit card company with a copy of the document authorizing the agent to act on the principal’s behalf, but that step should be easy.

And while you're taking the step of canceling the card, it wouldn't hurt to ask the credit card issuer to refund any part of the annual fee that won't be used.