Mark McCown: Man’s credit card debt won’t pass to children – The Tribune

Dear Attorney Mark: I’m worried about something and I wonder if you can help me.

I’m not a spring chicken anymore and with my health issues I don’t think I’ll be around for long. I live alone, but my children watch me every day and help me.

My problem is they don’t know that I have a whole pile of credit card debt.

It started when I was behind on my doctor’s bills, and then I needed a little more to pay for my food and medicine because my social security isn’t enough for everything.

When the interest and late fees were added, it raised my interest rate even higher, and now I have about $20,000 that I owe.

I’m afraid if I die they will go after my kids for pay, and they live paycheck to paycheck like everyone else.

What can I do? — Petrified in Perry

Best petrified: There are a number of things you can do, but let me put one fear to rest immediately: Unless your kids signed up for the credit card application, the credit card companies can’t “go after them.”

In Ohio and most other states, there is a provision called the fraud statute. In general, this statute says that unless one agrees in writing to be bound by another’s fault, he cannot be held responsible for it.

This means that your creditor cannot sue your children for a debt you owe after your death.

However, this provision does not release your estate from the obligation.

Everyone should have a will, telling the court how you want your property to be divided after your death.

Before the court divides your property, however, all your debts must be paid through your estate.

This means that if you want your children to inherit from you, you must have enough assets to pay off your debt.

There are a number of things you can do while you are still alive to pay off the debt if you want your children to have an inheritance.

First, you can try to negotiate directly with the credit card company or have someone do it on your behalf.

Oftentimes, creditors are willing to settle for much less than what is owed, as much of the debt can be late fees and extremely high borrowing costs, so the creditor never actually transferred the money to you to begin with.

If you choose a credit consulting firm, make sure you use an accredited non-profit agency. Be very careful of the companies you see advertised on TV.

Often, it’s for-profit companies that make you pay while your credit plummets, and wait until after you’ve been sued to “try” to settle your debt.

Another option you may have is to file for bankruptcy, which could potentially wipe out all your debts.

Since bankruptcy depends on individual circumstances, I recommend that you talk to a lawyer about this: most bankruptcy lawyers do not charge a consultancy fee.

It’s The Law was written by attorney Mark K. McCown in response to legal questions received by him. If you have a question, please forward it to Mark K. McCown, 311 Park Avenue, Ironton, Ohio 45638, or email him at LawyerMark@yahoo.com. The right to shorten and/or edit all questions is reserved.

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