My parents have alot of credit card debt. They are in their 60's, we live in Michigan, the rest of my family live in New York. My grandmother recently died and left my mother a nice inheritance. Not much, but nice. My step- father spends alot and he is the one who has run up their debt. My mother took her inheritance and left it in an acct. in NY with her name and her sisters name on the acct. to keep my step- father from getting his hands on it. If my step- father dies is my mother responsible for his debt? Im assuming she is since they are married. My mother has never worked a day in her life. she doesnt drive. My step-father has opened credit cards in her name and bought a car in her name...how he did that without her having a job is beyond me. If he dies I know Ill be taking care of my mother, I know that all their belongings will be liquidated to pay their debt. They dont own a house, they rent. Life insurance policies Im assuming will go to pay the debt and my mother will have nothing. Will they be able to take my mothers inheritance to pay their debt if its in an acct without his name on it? My mother was going to have a will drawn up leaving everything to me. Im her only child but I have step siblings who have no contact with my step-dad. the reason she is drawing up the will is so my step-siblings dont try to come back and take anything...but there wont be anything to take because Im assuming it will all become liquidated. Is there anyway my mother can do to keep that inheritance from going to pay my step-dads debt if he should die? thanks.
Good afternoon, Kimberly. I'm sorry to hear of your mother's situation -- it certainly sounds like an unfortunate one.
The rule for credit card debt is that it is solely the responsibility of the people who have opened the account and/or are authorized users. That means that any cards which are in your mother's name OR any cards of your step-father's which she is authorized to use are her responsibility. Therefore, if your step-dad dies with credit card debt, you mother is liable for those debts on cards which are in her name or on the cards on which she is an authorized user. She is not responsible for any debts which are not in her name or on cards for which she is not an authorized user.
The question of wills and inheritence varies widely from state to state, so I don't feel comfortable or qualified to answer that aspect of your question. You should consult a NY estate or elder law attorney for guidance.
Triad Daily Money Management, Inc.
Personal Bookkeeping and Paperwork Solutions for Seniors
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