My husband, a Colorado resident, died intestate in 2005. All of our assets were held jointly or passed to me as a beneficiary. He had no individual assets. I did not seek legal assistance due to these factors but have a minor issue to contend with.
There was an American Express credit card account established in my husband's name only. I was issued a card to use and am defined as an additional card holder and authorized user only. Purchases on the card were made by both of us but most were under my card because I was the one who did all the purchasing for our family. Most of the debt was for appliances and furnishings for a new house we purchased about a year before my husband died, and the intent was to obtain a home equity loan when rates were more favorable and after I returned to the job force. My husband died before that process was completed. I have continued to make payments against this debt for the past 18 months but believe I may not be legally required to do so. I didn't contest this with American Express before now because I just wasn't strong enough to do the battle I contemplate. I am aware that I would normally not be responsible for his individual debts, but the fact that some of the debt was incurred under my credit card number clouds the issue. I was not required to sign anything when my own card was issued nor, to my recollection, was I required to sign the credit card application. The back of the credit card has the wording "Use of this card is subject to the cardmember agreement".
The "Status of and Responsibility for Additional Cardmembers" section of the only Agreement in our files I can put my hands on reads:
Additional Cardmembers do not have accounts with us. Instead, they are authorized users on your Account, and the Cards issued to them may be cancelled by you or us at any time. You must notify us to revoke an Additional Cardmember's permission to use your Account. You are responsible under this Agreement for all use of your Account. You are responsible under this Agreement for all use of your Account by the Additional Cardmembers, and by anyone else you or an Additional Cardmember lets use the Card, and the Charges they incur will be billed to you. You have this responsibility even if you did not intend for an Additional Cardmember, or other person, to use the Card for any transactions.
An Additional Cardmember is not liable for Charges incurred by the Basic Cardmember or by other Additional Cardmembers. However, by each use of the Additional Card to incur Charges, the Additional Cardmember indicates his or her agreement to pay us for the Charge IF YOU FAIL TO (my emphasis) or refuse to pay it, and we may, at our discretion, pursue Additional Cardmembers for payment of Charges they incur or authorize. You authorize us to provide Account Information to Additional Cardmembers and to discuss the Account with them (my comment: This wasn't ever done.) .
You agree to notify each Additional Cardmember, at the time he or she becomes an Additional Cardmember, that we may receive, record, exchange and use information about him or her in the same manner we do with information about you, as described below in the CONSUMER REPORTS, TELEPHONE MONITORING/RECORDING, and SUSPENSION/CANCELLATION sections of this Agreement."
Is "failing to" (see my emphasis above) and being unable to because of death the same thing? One cannot fail to do something if one is dead, right? Can American Express enforce this Agreement in the event the additional cardmember wasn't aware of the contents of the Agreement?
Am I legally responsible to satisfy this debt in Colorado?
I am not trying to avoid paying off the balance; however, I don't want to if I am not legally required to do so.
Thanks so very, very much for your thoughts and opinions. Sorry I'm so verbose but all the facts had to be presented.
(Edit: I just discovered the Credit Card forum after posting this. I'm not sure which forum is appropriate so, Mr. Monitor, please let me know if I should move the thread or have it in both places.)