Canceling credit cards for someone who has died is typically a simple process, but it may come at a time when loved ones find it difficult to handle such matters. Representatives at credit card companies usually understand your situation if you are a surviving spouse or family member, and they should provide information to make the process as easy as possible. Canceling credit cards avoids the possibility of fraud or identity theft.
Pay money owed on the credit card before canceling if you are an heir or administrator of the deceased’s estate. Any debts owed will be passed on to the deceased’s estate and will affect the beneficiaries. You may handle this procedure when canceling the card if you choose.
Call the credit card company using the number located on the back of the card. Tell the representative the reason you are canceling the card, even though you can cancel the card for any reason. Have details ready, including the person’s name, address and Social Security number, if necessary.
Request an itemized statement of the card service for information on possible recurring payments the deceased has set up. Most new charges are stopped once you cancel the card, but you need to contact merchants that still have subscriptions or regular payments listed for the deceased. Credit card companies cannot add late fees or annual fees while the estate is being settled, such as through probate, a process that monitors the deceased’s assets before distribution.
Find out if the decedent's account included any benefits such as accident life insurance for the beneficiaries. Also contact the deceased’s employer or union to find out if there are any benefits, including pensions or life insurance, to help pay off any debts.
Explain your situation if you are not able to pay any debts owed. If you do not have the financial means to pay off the debts, the credit card company will write off the debts and close the account.
Dispose of the card by shredding it or cutting it up after cancellation.
The estate pays balances owed on credit card accounts. Credit card companies cannot legally force you or anyone else in the family to pay debts. The deceased’s spouse is only responsible for debts if the card is under a joint account. If you don’t have a joint account but wish to continue using the card, the company might have procedures to transfer the account over to you.
- The estate pays balances owed on credit card accounts. Credit card companies cannot legally force you or anyone else in the family to pay debts. The deceased’s spouse is only responsible for debts if the card is under a joint account. If you don’t have a joint account but wish to continue using the card, the company might have procedures to transfer the account over to you.
Jerry Shaw writes for Spice Marketing and LinkBlaze Marketing. His articles have appeared in Gannett and American Media Inc. publications. He is the author of "The Complete Guide to Trust and Estate Management" from Atlantic Publishing.