Who's responsible for a deceased person's debts? As a rule, a person's debts do not go away when they die. Those debts are owed by and paid from the deceased person's estate. By law, family members do not usually have to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own money.
Generally, the deceased person's estate is responsible for paying any unpaid debts. The estate's finances are handled by the personal representative, executor, or administrator. That person pays any debts from the money in the estate, not from their own money.
If no estate is left, then there's no money to pay off the debts and the debts will usually die with them. Surviving relatives won't usually be responsible for paying off any outstanding debts, unless they acted as a guarantor or are a co-signatory of the debt.
“If there is no estate, no will and no assets—or not enough to satisfy these debts after death—then the debt will die with the debtor,” Tayne says. “There is no responsibility by children or other relatives to pay the debts.”
Send a claim to the executor of the estate for the debt owed. Include copies of any proof you have of the debt. Be prepared to defend your claim if the executor requests more information. Wait for the estate to be settled.
You can apply for benefits by calling our national toll-free service at 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778) or by visiting your local Social Security office. An appointment is not required, but if you call ahead and schedule one, it may reduce the time you spend waiting to apply.
Creditors have one year after death to collect on debts owed by the decedent. For example, if the decedent owed $10,000.00 on a credit card, the card-holder must file a claim within a year of death, or the debt will become uncollectable.
Claims filed within a six-month timeframe of the estate being opened are usually paid in order of priority. Typically, fees — such as fiduciary, attorney, executor and estate taxes — are paid first, followed by burial and funeral costs.
Heirs' and Beneficiaries' Debts
Your creditors cannot take your inheritance directly. However, a creditor could sue you, demanding immediate payment.
Paying with the bank account of the person who died
It is sometimes possible to access the money in their account without their help. As a minimum, you'll need a copy of the death certificate, and an invoice for the funeral costs with your name on it.
The term next of kin is in common use but a next of kin has no legal powers, rights or responsibilities. In particular, they cannot give consent for providing or withholding any treatment or care.
If the estate does not have enough money to pay back all the debt, creditors are out of luck. ... If an executor pays out beneficiaries from an estate before all the debts are settled, creditors could make a claim against that person personally.
You typically can't inherit debt from your parents unless you co-signed for the debt or applied for credit together with the person who died.
Debt collectors aren't allowed to harass you or your family members about outstanding debts. ... And under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), creditors aren't even supposed to talk to your relatives, friends or neighbors about your debts.
Family members, including spouses, are generally not responsible for paying off the debts of their deceased relatives. That includes credit card debts, student loans, car loans, mortgages and business loans. Instead, any outstanding debts would be paid out from the deceased person's estate.
Once your debts have been established, your surviving family members or the executor of your estate will need to notify your creditors of your death. They can do this by sending a copy of your death certificate to each creditor.
Disbursal of estates to heirs becomes public record. Creditors and collection agencies often review those records to look for people who owe them money among the recipients of inherited property. This alerts them to the possibility that a debtor now has the money to repay some or all of their debt.
They must pay creditors in full before distributing the estate to the beneficiaries. An executor can be held personally liable for the debts of the estate up to the value of the estate. If they distribute the estate and leave a creditor outstanding, that creditor may bring a claim against the executors.
Credit card companies may contact survivors after a death to get information such as how to contact the executor of the deceased's estate. However, they cannot legally ask you to pay credit card debts that aren't your responsibility.
Inform the creditor that the deceased passed away; reference the prior call you made. Ask the creditor to place a formal death notice on the deceased credit file and to close the account. Provide information about the decedent, such as his full name, address, Social Security number, birth date and account number.
The Social Security Administration (SSA) pays a small grant to eligible survivors of some beneficiaries to help with the cost of a funeral. In 2020, this amount was set by law at $255 for SSI recipients.
In most cases, the funeral home will report the person's death to us. You should give the funeral home the deceased person's Social Security number if you want them to make the report. If you need to report a death or apply for benefits, call 1-800-772-1213 (TTY 1-800-325-0778).
How much can a family get? Within a family, a child can receive up to half of the parent's full retirement or disability benefits. If a child receives survivors benefits, they can get up to 75% of the deceased parent's basic Social Security benefit.
Medical debt doesn't disappear when someone passes away. In most cases, the deceased person's estate is responsible for paying any debt left behind, including medical bills.