Can I Use My Deceased Father’s Credit Cards?

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My father-in-law let my husband get credit cards under his name years ago. Since then my father-in-law has passed away (it’s been 3 years), but I have been using the cards mostly to pay for food and electric utilities. I pay the cards on time monthly. Can I be prosecuted for using these cards? What if I stop using the cards and only pay on them? Is there anyway I can pay them in full at once? Thank you.

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

It sounds like your father-in-law knowingly gave permission for your husband (and perhaps you) to use his credit cards. Credit card companies do not like this, and there’s probably language in the credit card agreement that forbids it. If the credit card company found out, they would be within their rights to cancel the cards and use whatever other enforcement provisions are within the contract.

The big problem here is that you’ve been using the cards after your father-in-law passed away. Usually, when a person passes away, all of their debts and assets are grouped into their “estate.” Out of this estate, creditors get paid and heirs receive what’s left over. You’ve been adding to the debts of this estate for three years. This is potentially problematic. You’ll need to look into your state’s laws to know what your options are. You could possibly face criminal charges if a prosecutor determines you’ve been committing fraud. It is very likely that the trustee of your father’s estate could sue you for the balance on the cards. You should contact an attorney that specializes in trusts and estates to find out what your rights are and how you can address this situation with the least hardship on you.



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Author: House Attorney