Get Out of Debt Guy

My Dad Died After Buying Me Plane Tickets

Posted September 23, 2013

WRAL Reader Question

Dear Steve,

My dad passed away and has a credit card in his name only.

The issue is he purchased plane tickets before his death for my family for trip. I'm being told by other family members that I need to pay that portion of the bill as it would be considered fraud.

Do I need to pay this portion of the bill before the account is closed?


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Dear Roxanne,

So sorry to hear about the loss of your father. Tough times indeed. Please accept my virtual hug.

If you had used the card after his passing then I can see that would be a clear problem. But essentially what we have is a situation where you father purchased tickets in your name and gave them to you as a gift. 

The credit card company can only look to his estate for payment of the bill.

The situation is actually a two part problem. 

The first part is the mode of payment. The obligation was incurred by him prior to his passing and by using the card he agreed to accept responsibility for the charge. As I said, if his estate has any value it will be up to the estate to settle his final bills, which includes this one. If the estate has no value then the creditor accepted that risk when they issued the card.

Cardholders die every single day. This is very common situation. In fact, whoever is responsible for his estate should send an original certified death certificate to the creditor and notify them of his passing. Generally everything ends right there.

The second part is an agreement between you and the airline. I'm sure the tickets are not refundable as most are not these days. So to get the benefit out of tickets you would otherwise just flat out lose, you should take the flight. 

Regarding the family member demand for payment, that seems to be a more personal issue masked in this situation. Please feel free to show them this column.

Steve Rhode
WRAL Get Out of Debt Guy

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About this Blog:

Steve Rhode has had careers in opthalmology, real estate and as the head of a nonprofit debt counseling firm. On his blog, he offers hard-won, free advice about getting out of debt, consolidation and making the right choices as you manage your money.