In Georgia, a wife cannot be held liable for a husband’s credit cards if she has never signed a contract with the credit card company. This question usually comes up after the husband dies and the wife finds out that the credit cards were never paid. When the bill collectors start calling, people usually panic. It does not matter if the bill collector demands payment from the widow. What does matter is the answer to the following question: Whose signature is on the credit card contract? While the deceased husband’s estate might be required to pay for the debt, the surviving spouse is not directly liable if she never signed a contract.
Even if the surviving spouse was an authorized signator on the credit card account, she is still not liable for the debt. You don’t have to sign a contract to have a credit card issued to you that is in another person’s name. For example, as an employer, I may decide to have a credit card for the office issued in the name of my office manager so that she can keep the office supplies stocked. If my business goes under, she can’t be forced to pay the debt because she never signed a contract with the credit card company.
When a credit card company demands payment from Mom for Dad’s credit cards, ask the company for a copy of the written contract. Tell them that you want to see where Mom signed it. In Georgia, marriage by itself does not make you liable for your spouse’s debts.
If it turns out that Mom is liable and she is unable to pay the debt, she should meet with a bankruptcy attorney to go over Chapter 13 and Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
There are exceptions to general rules. For you to truly know the answers for your specific situation, you should meet with a bankruptcy attorney so that they can see the entire picture.
1. What is Chapter 13?
2. What is Chapter 7?
3. How much does it cost to file?