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Phil Cannella uses his expertise in the financial services industry to help consumers tackle the many obstacles that may come their way. Divorce, although a burden in many ways, also becomes an issues concerning finances of both parties involved.
“It happens all too often. One spouse agrees to pay off a joint card as part of a divorce settlement. But if the ex doesn’t do it or dies before the debt is paid and your name is still on the card, the credit card company may come looking for you. If you live in a state that recognizes community property rights, you’d better hope you didn’t receive community property in the divorce. The divorce judgment does not bind the credit card company. It’s going to chase you,“ says Phil Cannella.
In a community property state, the rules are different during life and death. In states like Texas, any community property that passes to my wife as well as any specific bequest to my children would be liable on my death.
Phil Cannella provides the example, if a wife has no contractual obligation to the community property, her separate property can’t be touched. However, community property can be used to pay off debts. Community debt laws are complex and vary among community property states, so talk to a lawyer in your state about your situation.
“Continue to use a credit card as an authorized user after the cardholder’s death could put you in big trouble. Using it has criminal implications. If somebody wanted to make a case of that—is that any different than picking up a card on the street,” word of advice from Consumer Advocate Phil Cannella.