Ask The Experts: Death & Credit History

Q. When a spouse dies, does his credit history become the remaining spouse's if the credit cards were both in their names? My credit card is in my name but the billing/account is under my husband's name who is now deceased. I am still using our card, no carryover debt and payments are made on time. Whose credit history is it? What would you suggest? -Karen

A. No, your credit histories remain separate even in death. They never merge. Joint and co-signed accounts are on both reports perhaps giving the impression that the reports were combined. If you contact the credit card company they may close the account leaving you with no credit cards.

I'd suggest opening at least one new card in your name alone before you contact the other credit card companies to let them know about your husband passing away. They might even re-open the account in your name but you just don't know these days.

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John Ulzheimer is a nationally recognized credit expert, president of Consumer Education for and contributor to On The Money. Learn more about him at