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Debts in an estate are typically the estate's responsibility

The debts of an estate have to be dealt with by the estate administrator. There is a specific order that these must be handled in. All debts have a priority level for these cases. Knowing what should be paid first is important since the estate might not be large enough to pay off all the debts.

You should remember that family members typically don't have any duty to pay the decedent's debts. In fact, the creditors aren't allowed to disclose debts to the deceased party's parent if the person was a minor, the spouse or the guardian.

There is an exception to this rule. If a debt was owed as a joint debt, the joint debt holder would still be liable for it if he or she is still alive. This includes the debt for assets like the marital home.

If there is a debt owned on any asset that another person is going to receive, that debt will have to be paid. In some cases, the estate will pay it but it is possible to pass it down to the recipient in some cases.

Debt collectors might contact people, such as family members, in an effort to collect the debt. You aren't under any obligation to give any personal information to the people, but you should provide the person with the personal representative or administrator's contact information.

If debt collectors begin to harass you, it might be necessary to write a letter that makes your wishes to avoid future communication. Be sure to state this clearly. Send the letter in a verifiable manner, such as with a delivery receipt requested. Once the collection agency gets this notification, they can only contact you to let you know that no fufther contact will occur or that legal action will be taken in the case.

Source: FindLaw, "Paying the Debts of a Deceased Relative: Who Is Responsible?," accessed May 02, 2018

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