Will I be held responsible for my mom's credit card debt after she dies?

1 answer | Last updated: Sep 14, 2017
Skn asked...

My mom has a lot of credit card debt. Who is responsible for it once she dies? Do they pay for it out of her estate? I just want to know if the creditors would be coming to me, her next of kin, for payment.

Expert Answers

Barbara Repa, a Caring.com 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.

What usually happens to a person's debt at death is that all creditors are notified -- and the outstanding debts are ranked in a hierarchy set out in state law and paid off from remaining estate property.

If there isn't enough property to satisfy the creditors at the tail end of the list, they are usually simply out of luck and out of pocket. Highest on the list are the predictably peskiest creditors, such as those demanding payment for expenses of a funeral and last illness, lawyers' fees, and the IRS.

Credit card companies are generally lower down on the ladder. And you, as the next of kin, will generally not be held legally responsible for such credit card debt unless you agreed to be, for example, by co-signing a purchase agreement.