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Ely, Counselor at Law
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My question is in reference to a credit card debt that belonged

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My question is in reference to a credit card debt that belonged to my husband. It was obtained prior to our marriage and was in his name only. He passed away in October of 2008, leaving the credit card with a debt of $6000. Am I responsible for the debt? We lived in the State of Kansas.

Rhonda Hill
Hello friend. My name is XXXXX XXXXX welcome to JustAnswer. Please note: (1) this is general information only, not legal advice, and, (2) there may be a slight delay between your follow ups and my replies.

I am very sorry for your loss.

Kansas is not a community property state and as such, debts does not automatically go to the partner. Thus, if a spouse leaves behind debts at his death, responsibility for the debts does not go to the surviving spouse unless your name was on the account as an account holder or a beneficiary party.

Ergo, you are not - or rather should not be - responsible for the debt. His estate is, but if they had not filed a claim within SIX MONTHS of probate, then they are simply out of luck.

At this time, someone in your situation may wish to send a letter to both the credit bureaus and the original creditor.

If there is incorrect information in your credit history, you have the right to file a dispute. This is an arbitrary process wherein you send a letter to each of the bureaus, essentially disputing the credit history.

The credit bureau has thirty days to investigate your dispute and respond to you, in writing, with the results of the investigation. Any data you provided about the inaccuracy of the information will be forwarded to the creditor. The creditor is then required to respond back to the bureau. Then, the bureau makes an arbitrary decision based on the evidence provided. If the bureau agrees with you, the credit history is taken off. Also, if the creditor does not respond, then the bureau makes a default decision in your favor. Once the investigation is complete, the credit bureau will provide you with the results, along with a free copy of your credit report if the dispute resulted in a change. You can request that the credit bureau send a correction notice to any company that accessed your credit report within the past six months.

See a sample letter here. In it, you may point out that you are not your husband, and were wrongly "attached" to the debt after his passing, without them even pursuing the estate. The credit bureaus may then take this off your report. See more about this process here.

At the same time, a letter to the original creditor may have them take it off even without the credit bureau investigating. See sample letter below:

To Whom It May Concern:

re: (name, account #, etc)

I have been receiving debt collection attempts from your company for the debt allegedly owed by me from (describe nature of debt). This debt was the debt of my husband, who has passed on ________. You had never filed a claim with the estate upon his passing.

Despite me requesting so, your debt collection efforts have continued. Demand is hereby made that you cease and desist - now. The state that I am in does automatically pass on debt to the spouse. Ergo, your requests for payment and you placing this on my credit history is wrong.

You have a duty under the Fair Credit Reporting Act to review and correct erroneous information that you provide to credit bureaus on my behalf. If you continue on, then I will have no choice but to seek redress under the FCRA under 15 U.S.C. § 1681n for $1000 for each violation, plus possible punitive damages, as well as reasonable attorney's fees and costs.




A lot of times, this helps clear the matter up without further need of litigation.

Best of luck.

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