Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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If your parents die broke, are you liable for their debts?

Losing a parent can be one of the most difficult things you may ever face, and while losing a parent typically takes an emotional toll, you may, too have concerns about it taking a financial one. If your parent dies and leaves behind considerable debts, but no money to pay those debts, you may soon start receiving calls from debt collectors, and you would be wise to do your research before automatically believing the things they tell you.

According to U.S. News & World Report, it is not particularly uncommon for a parent to leave behind a financial mess once he or she passes on. Maybe, for example, your parent has an outstanding mortgage, or maybe he or she left behind substantial credit card debt before passing. Regardless of the type and amount of debt your parent leaves behind, you may be wondering whether you will become responsible for it.

Chances are, a debt collector will tell you that it is your ethical duty to cover those debts, but is it? Also, is an “ethical” duty the same as a legal one? Typically, no. The good news is, in most cases, you will probably not have to pay your parent’s outstanding debts once he or she passes away, although there are a few notable exceptions.

If you co-signed on a loan or credit card with your parent who passes away, and your parent owes money on that loan or credit card, you may become responsible for it. Otherwise, though, know that you are generally not going to be on the hook for debts accrued by your deceased parents.

This copy is informative in nature and is not meant to serve as legal advice.

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Dale M. Maas, Attorney at Law
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