Credit cards have become so common that the same question comes up over and over, “Does my credit card debt die with me?” Although you can’t take your gold MasterCard and black American Express cards with you, the remaining balance you owe may be collected from your estate.

The good news is that your heirs are not responsible for paying the bill. It just means that these types of liabilities sometimes come off the top—or are satisfied first—before any bequests or remaining assets are distributed to heirs.

In other words, Newsday’s recent article “Help your heirs avoid having to pay your credit card debt” says, your heirs will pay those cards off indirectly because money that comes out of the estate means less for them.  Depending upon the county where your probate estate is handled may determine whether they are paid or not.  Each probate court has different ways in which they approach these types of debts.

In a time of sadness and stress, no family wants to talk to creditors looking to get paid for delinquent balances.

There are a few ways to avoid this situation and to lessen the burden on your family. Let’s look at ways to avoid the situation altogether.

Pay off the debt. Easier said than done.  However, since you never know when you might die, keep on top of your expenses. It’s always the best practice. Remember, less or no debt means less or no headaches and frustration for your heirs.  If you do have unpaid debt, be sure your family is familiar with the laws, so they won’t fall victim to dishonest collections agencies and harassing bill collectors.

Make it easy on your heirs. Begin the process with a legally valid will that designates an executor of your estate. That way, there won’t be any arguments or questions about who will be in charge of handling the estate. Plus, this way no one has to jump through extra hoops and waste their time and energy to gain access to the estate.

Talk to an estate planning attorney and get some advice. When you visit with an experienced estate planning attorney, make sure that you have a record of all of your up-to-date financial records with all your accounts, assets, and liabilities. Make sure the executor of the estate knows where these materials are and how to locate them.  This will lead to a significant saving of both time and money.

Reference: Newsday (July 14, 2019) “Help your heirs avoid having to pay your credit card debt”