Who Is Responsible For The Debt Of A Deceased Individual?

  • “Am I responsible for the debts of spouse after they pass?”
  • “I lost my son; do I need to pay his unpaid bills?”
  • “Who is responsible for my sister’s debts now that she has died?”
  • “If I am the executor/personal representative of the estate, am I on the hook for the debts?”

Each of the questions above is a derivative of the same underlying concern. Namely, who is responsible for the debts of someone who has just passed away? As a general rule, no one is personally obligated to pay the debt of a person who has died. There are some exceptions and the exceptions vary by state. Some exceptions include:

  • Jointly held property
  • Co-signers of debt
  • Contracts entered into post death by living individuals


Unless there is an exception to the general rule, you do not have to take personal responsibility for the debts of a deceased person. While the estate may be liable before distributions of assets occur, you should never agree to pay the debts of your lost loved one until you speak with a licensed attorney.

Debt collectors are forbidden from using unfair, deceptive, or abusive practices to get you to assume responsibility. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) prevents creditors from harassing or abusing people they contact and attempt to collect a debt from. A creditor who threatens to damage your credit score by reporting your refusal to pay the debts of a deceased loved one to a credit reporting bureau is violating the FDCPA and you should contact an experienced probate attorney, like the attorney’s at Babnik Law, immediately.

It is always best to contact an experienced probate attorney before you decide to pay or not pay that pesky bill collector.  Contact our office today with your probate debt collection questions!

I am proud to serve clients all over the state of Michigan and Florida, including Ann Arbor, Canton, Brighton, Howell, Saline, Adrian, Taylor, Plymouth, Northville, Westland, Ypsilanti, Pittsfield Township, Warren, Sterling Heights, Farmington, Pontiac, Romulus, Lansing, Novi, South Lyon, Southfield, Birmingham, Bloomfield Hills, Royal Oak, Troy, Rochester, Jackson, Garden City, Livonia, Dearborn, Detroit, St Clair Shores, Hazel Park, Ferndale, Madison Heights, Waterford, Clarkston, Oak Park, Berkley, Fraser, Sterling Heights, Clinton Township and others in Miami-Dade, Palm Beach, Broward, Orange, Washtenaw, Wayne, Lapeer, Monroe, Jackson, Ingham, Eaton, Lenawee, Livingston and Oakland County

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