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Am I Responsible for My Loved One’s Debt After They Pass?

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Dealing with the passing of your loved one is hard enough without the influx of phone calls and letters from debt collectors harassing you to pay the debts of the recently departed. However, you should know what debts you are and are not responsible for. This helps prevent you from spending your money on debt you are not required to pay. Luckily, a Putnam County estate planning attorney can help you navigate your loved one’s estate after they pass.

Is Debt Absolved After Debt?

Unfortunately, debt is not absolved after we pass away. This means debt collectors are still looking to get their money back, regardless of the grief friends and family are experiencing. This makes the process challenging for everyone involved, as the collectors still need their funds, but you are still mourning your loved one.

In general, you do not need to pay the personal debts of your loved one. Their estate, meaning wealth, assets, and other property, will go through the probate process. This means the courts will determine the value of their wealth before using the assets to pay the debt of the departed.

However, you may find that your loved one’s estate does not cover the cost of their accumulated debt. This is known as an insolvent estate, and nearly everyone loses out. The creditors do not get the entire amount of money owed, and the beneficiaries will not receive an inheritance.

What Do I Need to Pay?

If you’ve inherited your loved one’s estate, you generally are not responsible for their debt. However, there are some instances in which you could be personally accountable for making payments on behalf of the deceased.

One example is if you are an authorized user on a joint credit card account. Similarly, if you co-signed a loan with the deceased, your name would appear on their collection papers. This makes you legally responsible for their financial obligation, regardless of whether or not you were making payments on the credit card or loan prior to their passing.

It is crucial to know that creditors only have seven months after the death of the deceased to file a claim. Any claim received after that window is no longer valid.

Can a Lawyer Help?

If you are struggling to determine the validity of claims against your loved one’s estate, you may end up making payments you are not responsible for. Instead, retaining the counsel of a legal professional can help ensure you’re financial obligations are met.

This is also crucial if you are the executor of the estate, as the probate process can be challenging to understand. However, the law office of Andres D. Gil, PLLC, can help you understand the legal jargon, helping you through the legal implications of dealing with death.

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