Skip to navigation
Drowning Piggy bank, concept of drowning in debt

Are Heirs Responsible for Their Loved-One’s Debts? 

Redding Law Office Jan. 30, 2023

Dealing with the death of a loved one is hard enough without having to worry about their financial obligations. However, understanding who is responsible for a deceased relative’s debts may help alleviate some stress during this time of grief.  

If you worry that you could be responsible for a loved one’s debts after their death or you deal with debt collector harassment, contact Attorney Chelsea Redding. The attorney at Redding Law Office represents heirs during the estate administration process. With an office in Southlake, Texas, Attorney Chelsea Redding serves clients throughout Tarrant County and Denton County.  

What Happens to Debts After a Person Passes Away?  

The answer to this question depends on several factors, including the type of debt and whether or not there are assets available to cover the costs. Generally speaking, if there are assets available, then those can be used to pay off the debts. If there aren’t sufficient assets, then those debts may be written off by creditors.  

Some types of debt cannot be passed on after death and must be paid off by the deceased’s estate or forgiven by creditors. These include student loan debt, medical bills, taxes owed to the government, credit card debt, and any other unsecured debts that were not part of a contractual agreement between two parties (such as auto loan payments). 

It’s important for individuals dealing with this situation to remember that each situation is unique, and you should contact an estate administration attorney for personalized advice.  

Who Is Responsible for a Deceased Relative’s Debts? 

In most cases, family members are not legally obligated to pay off their loved one’s debts when they pass away—unless they were co-signors or joint owners of the debt prior to death. However, if there are any remaining funds in the estate of the deceased person (i.e., money left over after all assets have been liquidated), then those funds will be used to pay off any outstanding debts before being distributed according to state laws governing intestacy (when someone dies without a will). This means that creditors will try to collect payment from the estate first before turning to family members for payment.  

It is also important to note that if you are dealing with an unpaid mortgage or other secured debt, your relative’s estate may need to sell any assets associated with that loan in order to make payments on it, such as selling a house if there is an outstanding mortgage loan on it. 

What to Do if a Debt Collector Harasses the Deceased Debtor’s Relatives 

It’s essential for you to know your rights as a relative of the deceased debtor. In most cases, debt collectors cannot contact anyone other than the original borrower or their representative. This means that they cannot contact any family members or friends of the deceased debtor in an attempt to collect the debt. It is also illegal for them to make false statements or threaten legal action when attempting to collect on a debt.  

If you are contacted by a collector, ask for written proof that shows you are legally responsible for the debt and verification of how much is owed. Any legitimate debt collector should be able to provide this information without hesitation. If they cannot produce this information, then you are not obligated to pay them anything.  

If you believe that your rights have been violated by a debt collector, it’s vital that you contact an attorney as soon as possible. They can help protect your rights and advise you on how best to proceed with resolving any outstanding debts without being harassed by collection agencies or creditors. 

Turn to Redding Law Office for Help  

It is critical for individuals dealing with a loved one’s outstanding debt after their passing to understand that each situation is unique and requires individualized advice from an estate administration attorney. If you find yourself in this situation, contact Attorney Chelsea Redding to help you make an informed decision about how best to proceed in your case. Contact Redding Law Office to talk about your case today.