Similar to the question How to deal with credit card debt from a family member that has passed away:

Person A was made an authorized user of his father's credit cards awhile back, with separate cards issued in Person A's name. Then his father died. A is the executor of his father's estate, but hasn't had time to settle the estate. A is not the sole heir. In the meantime, he has still been using the authorized credit cards and making (minimum required) payments, but there's now tens of thousands of dollars of debt on the cards.

Complicating things is that A has developed advanced stage cancer and may only live for another couple years. It is unlikely that he will make enough money to pay off the credit card debt, given that it was all accrued before the onset of his illness and he is generating even less cash now because of increased medical expenses.

Question 1: If A, as executor, settles his father's estate, must the father's credit card debt be paid out of the estate's assets, or is A personally responsible for the debt?

Question 2: (Maybe not much different from #1) If A dies before settling his father's estate and before paying back the debt on his father's cards, which estate is responsible for the debt?

  • 5
    This seems like a question for a lawyer, not for money.se.
    – Joe
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 20:39

1 Answer 1


As noted above, this is likely going to need (several) lawyers to straighten out. I am not a lawyer, but I think one should be retained ASAP.

However, in the meantime:

  1. An "authorized user" is not liable for any debt incurred - it is always the account holder who is liable.
  2. Since the account holder is deceased, the account should have been immediately frozen. Further charges (which can no longer be authorized) are probably going to be treated as fraud.

The authorized user should not be making any charges. Continuing to do so at this point may be a criminal offense. For the protection of any other heirs, this should be brought to the attention of the credit card issuer and law enforcement authorities. As it stands, the account holder's estate will be liable for the full debt, and the authorized user's estate would be untouched.

Of course, all this could change if other heirs challenge the estate and file civil suits, in which case it's likely that both estates will be eaten up with legal fees anyway.

  • Yes, when a relative of mine passed, their accounts were all frozen immediately, including all credit cards.
    – Peter K.
    Commented Sep 1, 2017 at 21:46

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