Losing a parent is almost always difficult, but if you start receiving calls from that parent’s creditors soon after, you may feel as if you have reached your wit’s end. If your parent passed away and left more debt behind than his or her estate could cover, your mother or father’s creditors may try telling you that it is your responsibility to cover it.
Is it, though? According to U.S. News & World Report, it is probably not your legal responsibility to cover your deceased parent’s debts. However, there are several key exceptions to this.
Did you apply for a line of credit with your now-deceased mom or dad? Did you co-sign on a loan with your deceased parent, and some of that loan is still outstanding? Unless you answered “yes” to one of these questions, you are likely not responsible for covering your parent’s debts.
Beware of debt collectors
While you may not have a legal obligation to pay off what your mother or father left behind, debt collectors may try to tell you that you do. They may inform you that it is your ethical, rather than legal, responsibility to take care of your mother or father’s outstanding accounts.
These days, an increasing number of older Americans are dying with medical, mortgage, credit card or other debts. Many of them have limited assets available to put toward covering these debts. Avoid falling prey to the tactics debt collectors often use in their efforts to collect what your deceased parent owes. If you doubt something a debt collector tells you, hang up and do your research before agreeing to any repayment plans.