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Who pays your parents’ debts when they die?

On Behalf of | Jul 9, 2020 | estate administration & probate |

Your dad was terrified of flying. So when he was alive, your parents’ holidays were limited to places they could reach in the car. When he died, mom decided to travel to all those places she had never been able to. Over the last year, she visited Venice, took a yoga retreat in India and a safari in Africa. You and your sisters were delighted that she was making the most of her remaining time, rather than withering away in a nursing home.

She died last week. She always joked about spending your inheritance, but it turns out that’s not all she spent. Your sister found a credit card statement. Your mother put those holidays on the plastic and has not been making the payments. 

What usually happens in these circumstances is anyone owed money (creditors) will try and claim it from the estate. You do not need to contact the credit card company, nor offer to pay it. The executor of your mom’s will has to inform all creditors that she has died. The companies owed money then provide proof of the debt to the executor.

Any debts will be paid from your mother’s estate. Secured debts get paid before unsecured debts. If there is not enough money in the estate, the creditors usually write the debt off. They could not hold you and your sisters responsible for your mother’s debts unless you co-signed for any of her cards or loans. 

A credit card company may still try to scare you or your family by sending debt collectors to your door. An experienced attorney can help you understand the limits of your responsibilities and stop such behavior.