Recurring Charge on your Credit Card after you die and Spouse having to deal with it

Heard a heart-breaking story on the Tech Guy Sunday. A non-tech widow was just stymied trying to get her tech-husbands recurring charges stopped. She did not have access to his email and was hit with recurring charge after charge with no way to recover.

Any thoughts on the best way to handle this? Especially when you have several “tech” subscriptions, and your spouse is also tech averse.

Link to segment:

Haven’t heard the show, unlikely I will, unfortunately, as not a fan of Rich. In any case, unless there is bad juju in the [presumed] American bank system, it should be pretty simple to deal with the bank and put a stop to it one way or another. Cancel the credit card, cancel the bank account, close the bank account… surely if the bank wants her business to remain they’ll fix the problem, and if they don’t, she should get a bank that does want the business.


I agree with all that. There was concern about affecting credit score, but he’s dead…

Tell the CC company the card was lost and ask for new numbers. I do it at least once a year for security. Helps to keep luxury subscriptions under control too since it forces you to review them all.

Getting a new CC is not a panacea. If you signed a contract for a subscription or other ongoing service (even virtually) it frequently can have terms that allow the provider to contact the bank and get the new CC info.

Oh wow, did not know that. They can really follow you anywhere.

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Wouldn’t his credit card be automatically cancelled, when he dies? Therefore the charges would be rejected automatically. If it is a joint card, cancel the card and get a new one.

We have a will and power of attourney for each other - if one of us dies, all joint accounts are automatically frozen until the probat has been dealt with, unless you have a banking power of attourney. That means even normal recurring transactions, like the mortage would be blocked, until the death paperwork has been sorted out.

Likewise, legally, all of those recurring transactions would be classed automatically terminated by the death of the card holder - here it would be more of a case of the transactions would be stopped and the widow/widower would have to deal with getting things like Netflix or Amazon Prim running again, if it was in their spouses name.

But if the person who set it up is dead and the wife cancels the card, they won’t be able to go to the bank. Also the bank account would switch from his name /their name to just her name, so when the bank is approached with the husband’s name and old CC number, they will be able to tell them that either the account doesn’t exist any more or that the account owner is dead (depending on what data protection is in place in the USA).

I don’t know how it is under US law, but in Germany you can’t force a dead person to pay for a service or product and all contracts they made when they were alive are automatically null and void - it is usually the other way round, scrabbling around to re-enable things that have been automatically cancelled.

Been through the UK probate process recently with parents, this would all be picked up as part of that here. Once the executor of the estate is in place, they have the full legal authority to deal with the estate.

We have a will and power of attourney for each other - if one of us dies, all joint accounts are automatically frozen until the probat has been dealt with, unless you have a banking power of attourney.

Note your rights if acting as an attorney cease on the person’s death.

A digital will is something we all need to put some thought into.


In Germany as well, if you have a normal power of attorney, we have a special power of attorney that goes beyond death. It has a special name here, which I can’t remember, and is what we explicitly set-up. That way, even when one of us dies, the joint account can’t be frozen, or we can at least get it immediately unfrozen.


But if the charges are being made to their joint account, wouldn’t her credit be affected as well?

In Canada, this would normally be handled by a lawyer for access to accounts and collections. This would subsequently apply to spouses and/or dependants.