Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in California

credit card liability of surviving spouse

The surviving spouse was not joint or co-holder of credit cards. Thier name is not on the account. Are they liable for the debt? If the surviving spouse is sole benificiary and executor of the estate, are they liable for the debt?

Asked on 11/03/97, 4:00 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Chris Johnson Christopher B. Johnson, Attorney at Law

Debt liability of surviving spouse

Typically, the surviving spouse's liability is limited to the value of the property passing to the surviving spouse. Thus, he or she would have to pay the debts out of the deceased spouse's property, up to the value of the property.

Regarding the spouse being an executor: if the surviving spouse is sole beneficiary of the estate, there may be no need to have an executor. A simplified court proceeding can be used instead, if it applies, and sometimes even the simple court proceeding is not necessary. Check with a local probate/estate planning attorney to see what procedure is needed in your case.

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Answered on 11/04/97, 8:07 pm

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