Who will inherit my
credit card debt?
If I should die with a great deal of credit card debt, will my son
be responsible for paying this debt?
Well, Maria, the short answer is, probably not,
at least not directly. Based on the wording of your question, I
am assuming that your son is not a co-signer on any of your credit
cards. That being the case, your son will not be responsible for
your debt when you die. However, your credit card debt can, and
most likely would, be paid by your estate. If the estate cannot
pay off the debt, no one else can be held responsible for your debt
unless he or she is a co-signer on the account.
Keep in mind that if
you do have an estate and leave a large credit card debt, your estate will be
depleted by the amount owed your creditors. If you do not have any other assets,
your home and possessions may be sold to generate the funds to pay off your creditors.
If you are planning to leave something for your son, there may be nothing left
after your debts are paid.
Something tells me there may be
more to your question than you are asking.
Two scenarios come to mind from long years of dealing
with financial issues. First, and most likely, you are concerned
about your debt load and may think you have a serious medical condition.
That may be so, but you may live longer than you think. In the early
'90s, I counseled a number of AIDS patients who had acquired a huge
credit card debt expecting that they were terminally ill. Then they
found out the diagnosis is not a death sentence, to their personal
relief and financial embarrassment. I have no idea what your health
situation is, but even if the situation looks bleak now, you might
want to work on a plan to pay off the debt as aggressively as you
are able. Regardless of what your doctors say today, tomorrow is
up to the big guy upstairs.
If you are using credit cards to extend your income
because you do not have enough money to cover basic needs, I suggest
that you take action now. If you own a home with a substantial amount
of equity, make that equity work for you by considering an equity
loan, a reverse mortgage (which is a loan against your home that
requires no repayment), or selling your home and moving into something
smaller and using the proceeds to reduce you debt and extend your
If you rent or have no equity, and do
not have enough income to cover your expenses, you might want to have a talk with
your family. No doubt you've done a lot for your son over the years. This could
be an opportunity for him to say thanks by giving you some assistance.
If you are overwhelmed by the idea of paying off your
credit card balances, get help from a reputable credit counseling
agency. A certified credit counselor can help you work out a plan
that best fits your particular financial circumstances and needs.
Debt Adviser, Steve Bucci, is the president of Consumer Credit Counseling Service
of Southern New England. Visit CCCS
for additional debt
advice or click here
to ask a debt question.