who pays debts after death?

scarlett2001October 10, 2011

My ex and I parted many years ago, both eventually re-marrying. He has had many years of financial troubles, and is now in quite a lot of debt. Our daughter is wondering if his debt, should he die, will be passed on to her. I think it would be the responsibility of his present wife, but she has a very minor job and I doubt that she could shoulder it.

What are the rules for paying a debt after death?

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I'm not a lawyer, but I have handled both my parent's estates when they died.

You don't inherit, nor are you responsible to pay for, your parents debt. What he owns (property, vehicle/s, retirement accounts, etc.) will be used to pay what he owes. Anything left will be distributed according to his will, if he has one.

The only way you or your daughter would have to personally pay any of his debt is if your signature is also on the debt (co-owner of a home, business, vehicle, bank loan, credit card, etc.).

Perhaps this link will give you some general information that will be helpful.


Here is a link that might be useful: Who Pays Off the Debts of a Deceased Person

    Bookmark   October 10, 2011 at 5:50AM
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No one in this country has to pay someone else's outstanding debts except the spouse. You make them, you or your spouse pays them. The exception is if you co sign for it.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2011 at 6:01PM
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Co signing for medical care can as little as giving permission for treatment. Always try to sign with the person that needs treatment. If you must sign with your name add the word "by" and the patient's name.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 12:17AM
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Never ever sign for someone's medical care. If the person cannot sign, there's a space for "person responsible". Say "patient". Period, unless you have great wealth.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2011 at 12:21AM
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Your daughter will NOT be responsible for her father's debts. Unless she was foolish enough to co-sign for his credit cards or loans, of course.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2011 at 8:24PM
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When my mother in law died, her son who paid her bills every month, wanted to be sure the people who worked for her, paper boy, mower, etc., got paid. He was afraid to pay them and then have social security demand the prorated money returned for the month she died. I told him to pay her personal bills and not worry about it. They can't get money back if she has died. He was a smart man and asked a lawyer. The lawyer gave him the same advice I did.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 3:54PM
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I agree with all of the above...your daughter will not have to pay his bills. There will be some debt buyers trying to collect and making crazy demands. All she has to do is ignore them and they will go away. I had to deal with handling my mother and mother-in-law estate.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2011 at 5:23PM
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The above advice is correct. Keep in mind, though, that (as also mentioned above) his assets at the time of death will have to stand good for his debts at the time of his death. While this may not matter in your case, it often does come into play when there is an asset that children expect to inherit, such as a family home or vacation home, etc. It could mean that those who stand to take from the estate have to actually purchase the asset from the estate, as those funds are needed to pay down the debt of the estate.

    Bookmark   October 18, 2011 at 3:52PM
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Check with a lawyer for state rules. We have told that if we pay one bill we could be liable for all. Also if the state is a community property state that could make a difference. Just a quick trip to the attorney, should save problems later. Get everything in writing.

    Bookmark   November 3, 2011 at 5:01PM
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She won't have to pay, BUT, she might receive phone calls from debt collectors asking her to "do the right thing". So she should just be ready to hang up on them and never discuss the issue with them.

    Bookmark   December 26, 2011 at 7:08AM
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This happened with my niece. She was contacted by various callers who tried to imply that she was responsible for her mom's debts.

She wasn't, and after she reminded each of them that they could be in deep legal caca for harassing her with no right to do so, they stopped.

    Bookmark   January 2, 2012 at 9:03PM
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