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Dave Says: Responsible After Death?

by | Jan. 15, 2013

Finances

Dear Dave,

My daughter died. She was 32 years old and single, and she had lived with me for the last few years because she was recently disabled. I did not support her financially, and when she died she had no assets and no will. Is it my responsibility to pay the student loans and medical bills she left behind?

Jim

Dear Jim,

I’m so sorry you’re experiencing this kind of grief. Losing a child is a heartbreaking experience, no matter their age.

The short answer is this: If you didn’t sign for it, you’re not liable. If a friend were to move in with you, that doesn’t make you responsible for their debts. The fact that it was an adult family member doesn’t matter either. She was a legal adult who signed her name on the debts in question.

If I were in your shoes, I’d try to find any papers attached to these debts and make copies of them. Then, I’d write up a form letter stating the total debt amount and the fact that she died with no assets. By doing this you’re notifying them that she passed away, and they’re not going to be paid. There’s no will or estate to be probated, so they can close the accounts.

Doing this will make creditors aware of the situation, and it should also protect you from getting hammered with collection calls. But the creditors get nothing in this kind of situation.
God bless you, Jim.

—Dave

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