Step 2: Notify financial institutions
Using the credit report as your guide, contact all banks and credit card companies at which the deceased had an open account and close those accounts as quickly as possible. You will need to provide a certified copy of the death certificate to close the account.
Step 3: Figure out who is legally responsible for any credit card debt
If your loved one died with outstanding debts, untangling who is legally responsible for the credit card debt can be tricky.
Credit card debt doesn't disappear when the credit card holder passes away. If the account was jointly held with a spouse or someone else co-signed the credit application, that person will be 100% responsible for the debt.
If the debt is in the deceased's name alone, a surviving spouse may still be responsible for the debt if they live in one of the community property states4: Arizona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin, and Alaska (if a special agreement is signed). Different states have different rules for dealing with the debt of a spouse, so it's a good idea to talk to an attorney.
Step 4: Follow up
After closing credit card accounts and notifying the credit bureaus, follow up to ensure the accounts were closed and no fraudulent accounts have been opened. Ask for written confirmation and file it with other documentation for the estate.
Facing the death of a loved one is a daunting journey. Knowing how to handle their financial affairs can help ensure you don't have to deal with fraud or identity theft during an already difficult time.
If one of the other financial affairs you need to deal with is your loved one's bank accounts, check out this article on how to close a bank account when a loved one dies.