When a person passes away, there is a good chance that they have outstanding bills. It is up to the person who is handling the person's estate to determine if there are any that need to be paid. One thing for people who lose a loved one need to remember is that they aren't responsible for paying those bills except for very specific instances.
The bills that are left by the decedent must be paid by the estate in a specific order and based on what's available. The only exception to this occurs when the debts are joint ones. In this case, the person who holds the account with that person would need to make the payments.
There are some components of a person's estate that can't be touched to pay bills. The life insurance policy, for example, usually won't go toward this purpose. Many trusts won't have to go toward the decedent's bills either.
The personal representative or executor must look into claims made by creditors to determine which ones are priorities. This person must also file the final income tax return for the estate. Other duties might also be necessary, which are determined by the circumstances of the case.
For people who recently lost a loved one, remember that you don't have to speak to bill collectors. You can direct them to the personal representative. It is imperative that you don't give them any of your personal information. You may have to send them a written letter telling them to stop contacting you. If you have to do this, send it with a return receipt requested so you have proof that it was delivered.
Being a personal representative is a big responsibility that comes at a time when you are grieving your loss. This makes it a difficult situation, but you still need to learn what you have to do so you don't make costly mistakes.