Are you responsible for your deceased parents’ debt?

For many people, losing a parent is one of the toughest things they may ever go through, and while losing your mother or father will almost undoubtedly take an emotional toll, it can also leave you facing increased responsibilities. You may, for example, be responsible for handling your deceased parent’s financial affairs after his or her passing, and just how much work this will entail will depend largely on your parent’s financial circumstances and whether he or she left behind a clear will or estate plan.

Unfortunately, many people fail to organize their finances before they pass on, and in some cases, they leave the world without tying up loose ends with regard to credit card debt, mortgage debt and the like. In fact, U.S. News & World Report notes that almost half of today’s older Americans pass away with less than $10,000 in assets to their name, highlighting just how many of today’s older Americans are dying in debt. If your deceased parent is among them, you may have concerns about whether you could potentially be on the hook for any outstanding debts your parent left behind.

Who pays?

The good news is, unless you co-signed on your deceased parent’s credit card, mortgage, or otherwise applied for credit with your mom or dad, you are probably not going to be responsible for paying off what remains. Keep in mind, however, that this does not mean your parent’s creditors will not attempt to come after you. On the contrary, it is a common practice for many debt collectors to try to “guilt” you into covering your parent’s debt obligations, even if there are no laws or regulations requiring you to do so. Keep this in mind when you have to deal with debt collectors trying to collect on your parent’s debts, and do not let them push you into agreeing to pay for something that was never your responsibility in the first place.

Losing a parent is always difficult, but, with a few exceptions, you are probably not responsible for the debts he or she leaves behind.

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