What happens if I have a joint account with someone who is filing bankruptcy? 20 Answers as of June 14, 2011

I just found out that a credit card that my mother gave me for emergencies when I went to college was in fact a joint account and not an authorized user account. The account was opened 13 years ago and I have not used it since I left college 9 years ago. How I found this out was that my mother can no longer keep up with the payments. The creditor will probably be sending the account to an collection agency. In addition, my mother will probably be filing for bankruptcy. How will all of this impact me? The ideal situation would be that the account would be turned over to me to pay off and this (collection and bankruptcy) would not be reflected on credit report. Please help.

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Burnham & Associates
Burnham & Associates | Stephanie K. Burnham
You should immediately catch up on any missed payments and begin making payments consistent with the minimum requirements to protect your credit. Your mother may not have any personal liability on the card after she files for Bankruptcy, but you do since you used the card. As long as the payments are made on time, it should not affect your credit.
Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
Replied: 6/14/2011
David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law
David R. Fondren, Attorney at Law | David R. Fondren
A creditor cannot unilaterally make this a joint account against your will or without your knowledge. You have to sign an application or contract to be legally liable for the debt. Did you? Were you there when you mom applied and joined in on the application? If yes, they can try to collect from you. If this is not the original creditor, they may not have the original documents to be able to prove you owe this debt. Talk to an attorney about that.
Answer Applies to: Missouri
Replied: 6/14/2011
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus
The Law Office of Mark J. Markus | Mark Markus
This may depend in part on the laws of the state which govern the cardholder agreement, but if it is in fact a joint account (which I think it can only be if you signed the contract), then you are jointly liable for any debt on the account regardless of whether or not your mother files bankruptcy. Her bankruptcy will not be on your credit report, but if payments are late regardless of whether she files bankruptcy it may affect your credit. So if you take over the payments, there should be no impact on your credit.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/13/2011
Jackson White, PC
Jackson White, PC | Spencer Hale
If you are a signer on the account you are responsible for the entire balance and any negative activity on the account. If you checked your credit report right now, it would likely show this card and all of its late payments. When you mother files, the debt will show that it was involved in a bankruptcy. If you want to stop the negative reporting then you should start paying the account right now to avoid any further negative reporting.
Answer Applies to: Arizona
Replied: 6/13/2011
Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall
Bankruptcy Law office of Bill Rubendall | William M. Rubendall
When you co-signed the credit card you obligated yourself to pay the charges. If you keep it current there will be no negative credit implications for your.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 6/13/2011
    Law Office of Harry L Styron
    Law Office of Harry L Styron | Harry L Styron
    Your credit report is independent of your mothers. If you make the payments on the credit card it should never be reported on your credit report. If you don't then it usually will be.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2011
    Saedi Law Group
    Saedi Law Group | Lorena Saedi
    If the co-signer on an account files for bankruptcy protection you will need to make sure that you continue to make payments on the account otherwise the creditor will seek payment from you as the co-signer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/13/2011
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed
    Bankruptcy Law Office of Robert Weed | Robert Weed
    So, you are your mom's co-signer. If you want to keep your good credit you need to catch it upor work out a catch up deal, and keep it caught up. Your mother's bankruptcy should NOT show on that account on your credit report. If it does, you need to dispute it. If that doesn't work, a credit report lawyer would be very happy to go after them for you.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/13/2011
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn
    Law Office of L. Paul Zahn | Paul Zahn
    You will be obligated to the balance. I suggest contacting the credit company immediately and paying off the balance so that your mother won't list it as a debt. Your credit is likely already effected. Once the account is paid off, close it immediately.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/13/2011
    Carballo Law Offices
    Carballo Law Offices | Tony E. Carballo
    The account will be your sole responsibility. Your credit report will show that the debt is in bankruptcy but that should not affect your credit much. You were liable for the loan and should have paid if your mother could not. The late payments will affect your FICO score but not as much as when one files for bankruptcy.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    The Schreiber Law Firm
    The Schreiber Law Firm | Jeffrey D. Schreiber
    As long as you pay off the debt either in full or make the regularly scheduled minimum payments and pay it off over time, it would not affect your credit.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Rosenberg & Press
    Rosenberg & Press | Max L. Rosenberg
    The bankruptcy will only affect you in so far as you will be solely liable for the debt incurred on that account. Otherwise there will be no negative reporting.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc.
    Bird & VanDyke, Inc. | David VanDyke
    If the debt is in your name and your mother's name then although she will no longer be responsible for it you will. You need to bring the account current and continue to pay it. Otherwise it will affect your credit.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Financial Relief Law Center
    Financial Relief Law Center | Mark Alonso
    Your mother filing BK will remove her from being responsible for the debt. Since you are jointly on that card, you will solely be responsible for the debt. If the card is not being paid it should be impacting your credit as well.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Ashman Law Office
    Ashman Law Office | Glen Edward Ashman
    If it's a joint account and she goes bankrupt, you owe the entire account. If it is delinquent, it will likely already be on your credit.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Ellahie & Farooqui LLP
    Ellahie & Farooqui LLP | Javed Ellahie
    Joint Account in Bankruptcy. If you filed bankruptcy all your assets are part of the bankruptcy unless you can legally exempt them. If you have a joint account, you or the other account holder has the burden to establish what portion of the funds are really theirs. If it is a small amount you may be able to benefit from the exemptions available to those who file bankruptcy. Mother's Account If you did not apply for the credit card and did not use, you should not be held responsible, but be prepare to vigorously respond to any creditor attempts to collect. Ask them for proof showing that you actually applied or if you are willing to pay on it anyway, you can simply start paying. You do need to be careful, however, if you start paying now and later can't pay you will have a harder time establishing that you did not have anything to do with the account. You should of course, ask your mother to contact the creditor and have them remove your name.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney
    Janet A. Lawson Bankruptcy Attorney | Janet Lawson
    You can pay off the account to preserve your credit. She can still discharge her obligation to pay it. That should not affect you.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Daniel Hoarfrost, Attorney at Law
    Daniel Hoarfrost, Attorney at Law | Daniel Hoarfrost
    If it's truly a joint credit account, the credit card will look to you for payment.If you can afford to pay it, you should have no problems.The "late-pay" might reflect on your credit report, but you have the right to enter an explanation to the effect that it was actually your mother's account.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley
    Law Office of Maureen O' Malley | Maureen O'Malley
    If you take over paying for it now, you should be ok. You're right that you will have responsibility for it once she files. Check your credit report afterwards, and if anything negative shows on it, write to the 3 credit reporting agencies and the creditor, telling them that your mother had been using and paying for this account until she filed, that you took over payments, that the account is in good standing, and any negative notarions must be removed from your report.
    Answer Applies to: Virginia
    Replied: 6/10/2011
    Law Offices of Virginia E. Fortunato
    Law Offices of Virginia E. Fortunato | Virginia E. Fortunato
    It sounds like you are legally liable for the debt. If you can pay it off, then call the credit card company/collection company and work it out. Be sure to get any settlement in writing with them confirming no negative information will be provided to the credit reporting agencies they will update the report to show it was paid-off. If you can pay it off then your mom may not have to file (unless there are other debts). If she does file, she will not be legally liable and the creditor will pursue you. This answer does not constitute legal advice. This answer is general information. I am admitted to practice law in the State of New Jersey. Although bankruptcy law is federal law how it is applied by Courts from state to state may vary and the general information in this answer is not an attempt to opine on matters of law that are not relevant to the Bankruptcy Court in New Jersey. Facts and laws change and these changes can affect the advice provided here. Consult an attorney in your locale before you act on any of this advice. You should not rely on this advice alone and nothing in these communications creates an attorney client relationship.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 6/10/2011
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