Credit card holders are allowed to include other people as authorised users on the credit card account. An authorised user is someone who is allowed to use the card, but who is not responsible for the debt incurred. In general, an authorised spouse is not responsible for the death on a credit card after the cardholder dies.
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A credit card account is a form of loan given to one or more people. When you sign up for a credit card, you agree to abide by the terms of the credit card agreement. By signing your name and agreeing to the terms, you enter into a contract with the credit card issuer. You cannot force someone else to accept the terms of the credit card agreement, and only a person who signed the credit card agreement is liable to the credit card company as an account holder.
If the terms of the credit card agreements allow a cardholder to name someone else has an authorised user, the cardholder can exercise his ability to do so but is not required to do so. For example, if your husband gets a credit card and the card agreement allows him to name authorised users, he can include you on the credit card and let you use the credit card in the same manner he would use it.
If your spouse included you as authorised user on her credit card and then dies, you are not responsible for the debt because you are not an account holder. Even if you use the card to make purchases, the credit card company cannot hold you responsible for the debt because you never entered into a contractual relationship with the company. The only way for the company to recover the unpaid credit card debt is to file a claim against your spouse's estate, which consists of all the property your spouse left behind after death.
While a spouse is not generally responsible for a deceased spouse's debts in most states, some states consider all property owned by either spouse in a marriage to be jointly owned by both. In the "community property" states, you might be held liable for your deceased spouses credit card debts even if you are not an account holder.
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