Although relatives may feel like they have a moral obligation to pay all of a loved one’s debts following their passing, they may not have to do so in New Jersey. Paying back credit card debt is not always the responsibility of a deceased person’s heirs. Credit card companies must make a claim to the estate of a deceased person to receive any money that the company feels is due to them.
Harassment on the part of credit card companies looking to collect money owed to them after someone dies is more common than one thinks. Creditors are required to contact estate trustees to collect any money that is owed to them. Those that continue to contact relatives of deceased individuals who had credit card debt following their passing are in violation of the law. In addition, if no assets exist or if debts exceed the assets, creditors generally write off credit card debt.
Exceptions do occur. The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act protects consumers. The FDCPA has severe penalties for those who violate its provisions. This includes tracking down relatives of deceased individuals who owed creditors money.
Individuals who have deceased relatives with debt and who may have been harassed by creditors may benefit from contacting experienced attorneys who are familiar with estate laws concerning debt. New Jersey attorneys familiar with debt laws may be able to offer advice on how to best proceed when debt remains from a deceased loved one. Knowledgeable lawyers may be able to help individuals learn how to manage leftover financial situations for which they may not be liable.
Source: MSN Money, “Who pays off credit card debt after a death?“, Aaron Crowe, September 04, 2013