Livens & Reed, PLLC

Who pays the debts of an estate when a loved one dies?

These days, few people across the country pass away without leaving debts behind. The creditors owed those debts will attempt to collect them regardless of the passing of a loved one. The question many Texas residents may have is who is responsible for the amounts owed -- the estate or family members.

Many creditors will begin making calls to next of kin demanding payment. Those relatives should know that in most cases, they are not legally responsible for the debts of a deceased loved one regardless of what a creditor or debt collector may say. Even so, there are instances in which a family member may end up responsible for a decedent's debts.

For instance, a spouse whose name is on a debt with a deceased spouse remains responsible for it after his or her death. Even in those circumstances, that responsibility could be limited. Unless another person served as a co-signer or co-debtor, he or she should not have any liability for the decedent's debts. Any creditors who contact family members should be redirected to the personal representative or executor of the estate. They are not obligated to give the caller any personal information, and probably should avoid doing so.

When it comes to the administration of an estate, a deceased person's debts are dealt with in accordance with certain laws. Creditors cannot simply begin harassing anyone related to that person, unless he or she is actually legally obligated to pay the debt in some manner. Anyone who is unduly harassed may file a complaint under the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act. As for the estate's debts, those should be handled through the Texas probate process.

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