Lakewood, NJ asked in Estate Planning, Collections, Elder Law and Probate for New Jersey

Q: In NJ, my dad passed away having credit card debt. There was no co-ownership/joint owners with the credit cards.

We were unaware of him having credit cards nor have any evidence of credit cards until the bills and calls started rolling in. My dad did not have bank accounts in his own name. Whatever was jointly owned has been transferred through the right of survivorship to his wife. How can we pay for this large debt? If I were to use his spouse's savings to pay the debt, it will leave her with nothing (no liquid assets). Furthermore, I can not confirm the charges on the credit card were his because I have no involvement or aware of him owning any credit card. Both names are on the deed of their home which is in an irrevocable trust (still needs a couple of years). I am the Executor which debt collectors are bombarding me with mail. What is my recourse to resolve this matter? Should I write a cease and desist letter to the collectors? There are not enough funds in which my dad owns to pay off this debt to multiple creditors. I had probated the will. Thank you for your advice in advance.

1 Lawyer Answer
Anthony M. Avery
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Knoxville, TN

A: Consult with a NJ attorney. But try to avoid Probate as that will attract the creditors. It is not the Spouse's debt, but sometimes the Spouse can be held liable for necessities. Again, avoid Probate, and see if any exemption statutes protect her.

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