Many things happen when you lose a loved one. There are often final arrangements to make. Some people will have to handle the estate matters. Most people don’t automatically think about having to deal with debt collectors at this time, but this is sometimes a sad reality.
Getting a call from someone trying to collect on a debt from a deceased family member can be a traumatic experience. You might feel some obligation to take care of it, but you really shouldn’t feel like that. In most cases, family members don’t have any duty to pay for the debts of someone who passed away.
Why would creditors try to collect from family members?
Creditors usually know that a person’s debts die when the account holder passes away. This may lead them to try to collect from family members in the hopes that they will pay without thinking about it. If you get a call like this, don’t give out any personal information.
The only information that you should give a creditor for a deceased loved one’s account is the information for the estate administrator if there’s one. Unless you’re a cosigner or a joint account holder, you don’t have any obligation to take care of the debt. The creditor can turn to the estate for payment.
There’s a chance, however, that the estate won’t have the ability to pay for the debts. If that occurs, the creditor simply has to write off the account. Anyone who’s contacted for payment by a debt collector who’s trying to get money for a bill owed by the deceased should realize they’re under no personal obligation to pay unless they were a co-signer on the debt.
What can you do if you aren’t sure about how to handle the deceased’s debts?
If you’re harassed or if you aren’t sure if you should pay the bill, contact your probate attorney to find out what options you have.