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Dave Says: Don't Pay It!

Dave Ramsey - August 28, 2012


My brother had a couple federally insured loans when he died, and now our lawyer says my mom has to pay it. Is that right?

Dear Dave,

My brother was killed earlier this year, and my mom is finalizing his estate. He had a couple of federally insured student loans through Sallie Mae totaling $8,000 at the time of his death, and the attorney probating the estate says Mom now has to pay off those loans. Is that correct?


Dear Callie,

I’m so sorry to hear about your brother. But no, your lawyer is not correct. Payment for federally insured student loans is not due upon the borrower’s death. They are waived.

I’m going to give you two pieces of advice. The first is to fire your attorney. We’re talking about basic knowledge when it comes to probating an estate here. If he got that wrong there’s no telling what else he’s told you that’s off the mark.

Second, you can take care of this by sending a copy of the death certificate to Sallie Mae. I’ll warn you ahead of time that it may take a while to jump through all their hoops. I mean, you’re dealing with the federal government. They’re not exactly known for getting things right the first time. But once you’re declared permanently disabled or you pass away, federally insured student loans are discharged and not held against the estate. Don’t pay it!


Dave Ramsey is America’s trusted voice on money and business. He’s authored four New York Times best-selling books: Financial Peace, More Than Enough, The Total Money Makeover and EntreLeadership. The Dave Ramsey Show is heard by more than 5 million listeners each week on more than 500 radio stations. Follow Dave on Twitter at @DaveRamsey and on the web at

Comments 1 comments

dammon said...

06:03 AM
on Sep 10, 2012

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Tough question. I'd have to ask the Lord if I should pay it or not. What is my wife's is mine. Could I not feel a desire to pay my spouses debt? Or put that to someone else... I'd say work it out with God on what would be the right step to take.
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