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When Californian residents who have a will die and leave credit card debt behind, their executors bear the responsibility of dealing with the creditors. The executor may start by ordering the credit reports of the testator in order to find out what debts are owed.

Executors may get the credit reports by sending certified copies of the decedent’s death certificate to Experian, TransUnion and Equifax. This also serves to notify the credit reporting agencies of the death so that scam artists can’t open new accounts in the decedent’s name. After identifying all of the creditors, the executor should then send each one a certified copy of the death certificate along with a page from a bill so that the correct account is linked.

Executors should request that the creditors verify all debts and send full accountings of them. They should never pay debts out of their own pockets and instead pay them out of the estate assets. If there isn’t enough money to pay all of the debts, then they should forgo paying them. While the creditors may challenge the nonpayment in probate court, most courts will tell the creditors that they have to absorb the losses.

Before the estate’s assets are distributed to the beneficiaries, the executors must first repay the debts, costs and taxes. They may then distribute the remaining assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will’s provisions. Executors who feel like they need help handling the estate administration may want to consult with estate planning attorneys who may help by providing guidance on the various duties that executors have to complete when they administer the estates. They may also help if there is a will contest before the probate court.