Help your heirs by not leaving credit card debt behind for...

Help your heirs by not leaving credit card debt behind for them to deal with. Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/bernie_photo

Some things don’t disappear even when you die, including credit card debt.

Yep, while MasterCard and Amex don't exactly go through the pearly gates with you, the balance you owe can be collected from your estate. The good news? Your heirs don’t have to pay the bill. The bad news? They'll pay indirectly, as any money that comes out of your estate means less for them.

Who needs creditors hunting down money at a time that’s stressful enough already? Here’s how to skip the situation altogether.

Pay off debt

While you never know when you might go, staying on top of your bills is always a best practice. Less or no debt means less or no headaches for heirs. “If you do have unpaid debt, make sure your family is familiar with the laws, so they won’t fall prey to dishonest collections agencies,” says Joshua Zimmelman, president of Westwood Tax & Consulting in Rockville Centre.

Make it easy on your heirs

“Start with a will naming an executor of your estate, so there is no argument or question over who will be in charge of handling the estate and no one has to jump through extra hoops to gain access to the estate. Consult an estate planning attorney for advice,” says Zimmelman.

Get organized

Be sure your financial records with all your accounts, assets and liabilities are up to date and that the executor of the estate knows where they are.

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