After a family member passes away, the last thing you may expect are calls from debt collectors regarding your family member’s unpaid obligations. This may come as quite a shock while you are still in mourning.
Fortunately, it is unlikely that you are responsible for paying your loved one’s debts out of your own pocket.
The estate is responsible for paying debts
According to FindLaw experts, any debts that a decedent leaves behind are usually paid from the decedent’s estate account. In cases where there is not enough money in the estate to satisfy all the debt, the outstanding balance usually remains unpaid.
If you are the executor of the estate, you will be responsible for paying any leftover bills. The money will come from the assets of the decedent, however, because you are not personally responsible for the debts in most cases.
Special rules may apply to the spouse of the decedent
If a family member passes that is not your spouse, you will not be liable for his or her debts. Even if it is your spouse that passes away, you may have a limited obligation for his or her debt. It is important to talk to someone with knowledge of estate administration and your state laws to determine your liability in this situation.
Planning ahead of time can help
Before the distribution of any inheritances, debts and bills are one of the first items that must come out of an estate account. Planning well in advance can help people leave a little something behind for their family members.