Managing a Deceased Relative's Debt

Nov 7, 2022 3:12:14 PM

When mourning the loss of a loved one, the last thing you want to do is deal with debt collectors coming to tie up loose ends. This experience can be even more devastating if you weren’t expecting to have to manage this debt. Fortunately, there are many resources out there to help you deal with the debt of a lost loved one, and we hope that this post can provide you with the foundation for how to handle this task.

Debt Doesn’t Disappear After Death

The money someone owes doesn’t go away just because they have died; that debt still needs to be remedied. Now, this doesn’t mean that you now have to pay off your loved one’s debt, but it does mean that your loved one’s estate is responsible for repaying the debt. If their estate can’t cover these debts, it typically means that the debt will go unpaid. However, if there is a co-signer on the debt the co-signer would be responsible for paying the remainder of the debt or if they lived in a community property state then the loved one’s spouse would be responsible (See other exceptions here).

You May Not Have To Talk To The Debt Collector

The debt collectors may only talk to certain individuals Under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA); these individuals include the deceased’s spouse, parent(s) (if the deceased be a minor), guardian, executor, and administrator. If you are not one of these individuals, the debt collectors are not allowed to discuss the debts of the deceased with you. If they do contact you, the only things they can ask you about are the name, phone number, and address of one of the individuals listed above.

Ask For Help

This can be an overwhelming time, and sometimes it is best to ask the experts, especially
if you are the executor or administrator of the estate and are responsible for handling the debts of
the estate. You can get legal advice–sometimes for free based on your income–on how to best
manage this difficult situation (Find legal help here).

Tags: Debt Management