Losing a parent is almost always difficult, and the aftermath of a parent’s passing often proves stressful and emotionally taxing. Chances are, you are going to need to work through several financial and other matters in the wake of your mother or father’s death, and you may find that you develop questions along the way if your loved one dies without enough money to cover his or her debts. 

Many older Americans die without having sufficient funds available to cover all their debts, and if your parent was among them, you may start fielding calls from creditors shortly after his or her passing. Are you actually obligated to pay your loved one’s credit card, mortgage or other debts once he or she passes on, though? 

Debt obligations 

Once your mom or dad passes, any debts he or she accrued fall under the estate’s ownership. If your parent has enough assets in the estate to cover those debts, great. If not, some of those bills may simply go unpaid. Why? The majority of the time, you are not legally responsible for covering a deceased parent’s debts, but there are a few exceptions. 

Two exceptions 

There are two circumstances under which you may be on the hook for your deceased father or mother’s debts. If you and your parent applied for a loan together using both names and have not yet repaid the loan, you may wind up legally responsible for doing so. Similarly, if you share a credit card and both your names are on the account, you may also have to cover any credit card debt that remains after your loved one’s passing. 

It is important to keep in mind that a debt collector is unlikely to share this information with you because he or she is simply looking to collect what your deceased parent owes. Do your research before automatically agreeing to shell out money for someone else’s debts, no matter who that someone is. 

Crow Durbin, Attorneys at Law