Estate administration: paying debts after a loved one's death

Posted by Angela Holliday Hansen Esq. | Oct 22, 2015 | 0 Comments

Part of administering an estate in Maryland is paying the deceased's debts. Such debts could include a mortgage on the deceased's home, student loans and credit card debt. Family members of the deceased may have many concerns aboutpaying debts, and whether they will be responsible for them. Lets explore this topic further.

Relatives of the deceased may want to know if they will be held personally responsible for the deceased's debts. In general, after a person passes away their debts are paid for via their estate, not via the deceased's relatives. Nevertheless, a relative of the estate may be responsible for the deceased's debts if his or her name was also on the debt.

For example, if the deceased had a mortgage and the deceased's spouse's name was also on the loan, the surviving spouse may be responsible for the remaining mortgage debt. In these situations, the surviving spouse may want to keep on paying the mortgage and remain in the home, or he or she may instead choose to sell the property and pay off the mortgage with the proceeds.

What about credit card debt? In general, unless they are a cosigner on the credit card account or they jointly own the credit card account with the deceased, relatives of the deceased will not be personally liable for the deceased's credit card debt. However, the laws vary from state to state, so it may be a good idea to check with an attorney to determine whether you are considered a joint owner on the account through marriage.

This is only a general overview of how debts are treated after the account holder passes away. The law in this area is very nuanced. This post does not provide legal advice, so Maryland residents who need more information about this topic or estate administration in general should contact a probate and estate administration attorney in the state.

About the Author

Angela Holliday Hansen Esq.

Angela Holliday Hansen, Esq., is a former big firm corporate attorney who now practices family law in Rockville Maryland. Ms. Hansen oversees complex estate administration and drafts...

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100 Park Avenue
Suite 106

Rockville, MD 20850
301-690-0383
Mon, Tue, Wed, Thu, Fri: 09:00am - 05:00pm

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