Troubleshooting Legal Problems

Who pays debts after a person passes away?

Many individuals don’t have estate plans in place. The beneficiaries of those who do have a will or trust expect everything to proceed as documented in these estate planning documents once the testator or trust owner passes away. While most probated cases play out as planned, some don’t because creditors make claims against the estate. 

You may find it helpful to know what happens with a decedent’s debts after their passing. You may find it comforting to learn that a decedent’s loved ones are seldom responsible for paying off any debts a testator leaves behind.

When are family members responsible for paying a decedent’s debts?

Family members are typically only responsible for paying an estate’s debts if they are co-signers or account holders on the line of credit. Creditors sometimes contact surviving family members to request a payment, but such collection attempts are illegal. The creditor can generally only lawfully contact family members to get the executor of the estate administrator’s contact information. 

How to proceed following the passing of a loved one

Anyone who recently lost a family member should remember that giving out their personal information to a creditor isn’t something they should do. They should only share the name, address and phone number of the estate’s administrator or executor. 

You’ll want to ensure that you fully understand the division of debts if you’re handling your loved one’s Pennsylvania estate. Instances in which family members pay off debts that the estate isn’t responsible for reduces what heirs and beneficiaries receive. An attorney can help you determine what bills you must pay and the benefits associated with doing so.