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If your husband’s credit card was in his name only and if you don’t live in a community property state (see below), you are not responsible for the debt repayment and many credit card companies simply write off the debt. Send a copy of the death certificate to the credit card company via certified mail with return receipt requested. Keep a copy of your correspondence for your records.

You have the right to ask debt collectors, via a signed letter, to stop calling you. See the FTC’s Debts and Deceased Relatives section for more information.

Joint Account Holders

If you were a joint account holder, you are responsible for the debt. Each applicant on a joint account can use the credit card and each is equally liable for all of the debt.

A joint account holder is different from an “authorized user.” An authorized user is not usually responsible for the amount owed.

Community Property States

Another caveat is if you live in a community property state. Only nine states have community property laws in which debts incurred during the marriage are considered debts of the couple. If you live in Arizona, California, IdahoLouisianaNevada, New MexicoTexas, Washington, or Wisconsin, check your state’s laws and talk to the credit card issuer about your husband’s credit card debt. It might take a while to dig into the legalities of community property laws because the laws vary from state to state. But, you or the estate will most likely be on the hook for the debt.

Further Reading

For more information on debt repayment responsibilities, including what to do when collectors come calling, see Nerd Wallet’s article, What Happens to Your Debts After You Die and the Consumer Protection Financial Bureau article, Can I Be Responsible to Pay Off the Debts of My Deceased Spouse?