Must Heirs Pay Off Their Loved One’s Debt?

  • Posted on: Jun 22 2020
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As the coronavirus continues to cause an economic recession in the U.S., millions of Americans are accumulating debt and sharp losses in income. But for older Americans, this is not what they expected to leave for their children. If children or other heirs inherit bills when their parents or loved ones pass, are they required to pay them off? The good news is probably not. 

When you are dealing with the emotional toll that often accompanies the death of a parent, while also having to tie up loose ends, the last thing that you want to have to concern yourself with is whether or not you are obligated to pay the debts they left behind. 

While creditors can certainly go after any assets in the estate to satisfy the debt, they cannot come after you specifically. However, assets in the estate may have to be sold in order to cover those debts. 

Unsecured Debts

Unsecured debts such as medical bills, personal loans, and credit cards often go unpaid or settled for next-to-nothing after someone dies. However, in cases in which you are also liable for an unsecured debt, such as co-signing on a loan with your mother, you will become fully responsible for paying off the debt. 

Sometimes collection agencies will still try to obtain collection after someone dies. But you are still not responsible for paying anything. 

Secured Debts

Secured debts are a bit different. They must be repaid or else the lender can repossess the asset. Secured debts often include things such as car loans and home mortgages. Therefore, if your parents had equity in their vehicle or their home, it’s often in your best interest to ensure that payments are current so that you can maintain this equity until you are able to sell or transfer the asset.

Bear in mind that it is the job of estate administrators and executors to find and identify all assets and debts of the decedent and to notify financial institutions and creditors of their passing. When you don’t have the full picture of your parents’ complete financial position, if you hurry to pay off debts, you may end up short on money to pay higher priority bills or even funeral costs. 

The Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC Helps Those in CA to Handle their Loved Ones’ Estate

When people fail to plan ahead, they can end up creating more aggravation for loved ones than actually helping them. That’s usually the last thing they wish to do.

At the Law Offices of Brian L. Fox, APLC, we understand how important it is to protect that which you care most about – including your financial stability and wellbeing. We can help you to deal with your loved one’s debt in a manner most thoughtful to you. To learn more about the debts of heirs or to schedule a free consultation, contact us today

Posted in: Wills and Trusts