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Newark Family And Estate Law Blog

California’s community property laws require dividing your marital assets and shared debts during a divorce. As reported by CNBC, if you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse have joint credit card accounts, you may take steps to protect your credit and your finances.

By requesting a copy of your credit report, you may determine which accounts you share with your spouse. Accounts listed in both your names generally mean that you both have responsibility for making payments.

How may I close a joint credit card account?

When requesting a change to your account, the card’s issuer may need to know about your divorce. Closing a joint account generally requires approval from both owners. If the card has a balance, your creditor may not close it until the account becomes paid in full.

Once the account has closed, however, you may lose any reward or bonus points. You may also see your credit score reduced by about 50 points, according to a survey conducted by Debt.com and Moneywise.com.

What could happen if I remove myself from a shared account?

Shared accounts include joint owners and authorized users. A card issuer that lists you as an “authorized” user means that your spouse owns the account. If you opened an account and then added your spouse as an authorized user, you may remove his or her name from the account to avoid new charges.

When you remove either yourself or your spouse as an authorized user, you may still have responsibility for paying the debt. A Golden State judge may require you to pay half of the balance owed if the purchases made as an authorized user went toward your shared household.

Divorce may require negotiating the payment of shared credit card debts. Ordering a credit report will show your joint accounts and those accounts that list you as an authorized user.

Many people in California associate estate planning tools like wills and trusts with people at older stages of their lives. However, the reality of the matter is that even a person in their 20s or 30s can benefit from some form of estate planning.

At any given time, a person may experience an accident or become ill. These situations may render them unable to make medical decisions for themselves and even to manage their own financial affairs for a time. At a minimum, younger people should have advanced health care directives and durable powers of attorney.

Reasons for a will

Young people today are at risk for being incapacitated without warning. By clearly documenting who should step in to work with doctors and other medical professionals during this critical time, millennials can protect themselves and make things a bit easier on their families.

Some young people might also find that a basic will benefits them by stipulating who should be in charge of their assets and debts should they die prematurely. This allows another person to more easily navigate the probate process, paying creditors and assigning ownership of assets. Millennials who have retirement accounts or life insurance policies through their employers should regularly review and update who they have named as the beneficiaries on these accounts.

Taking steps now saves time later

This information is not intended to provide legal advice but is instead meant to give people in California an understanding of the types of estate planning tools available to them and how people at different stages of life may benefit from different tools. Taking steps to establish a will now may give you and your loved ones peace of mind later.