Are Heirs Responsible for Their Loved One's Debts?
Feb. 7, 2023
Losing a family member can be a difficult experience for surviving loved ones. In Ohio, probate proceedings are often initiated after a person's demise to settle their estate and final affairs. However, various issues often arise regarding paying any unpaid debts of the deceased person. A knowledgeable Ohio estate planning attorney can answer your questions about what happens with a loved one's debts when they pass away.
The Law Office of David G. Bale is committed to offering outstanding legal services and helping surviving family members deal with their loved one's debts. Attorney David Bale can enlighten you about the probate process and help determine who is legally obligated to settle the decedent's debts. The firm proudly serves clients across Westerville, Worthington, and New Albany, as well as throughout Franklin County and Delaware County, Ohio.
Do Debts Go Away After Passing Away?
No, outstanding debts don't go away after the debtor dies. Rather, creditors still expect to receive the full amount owed to them. However, depending on the type of debt, the creditor's policy, and other surrounding circumstances, some debtors may be willing to negotiate a reduced balance or accept part payment. An experienced Ohio probate attorney can enlighten you about estate administration and how debts are handled during probate.
Understanding Estate Administration
Estate administration is the legal process of settling a decedent's final affairs and distributing the estate's assets to inheritors. During estate administration, the court-appointed executor or administrator will gather and evaluate the estate's assets, pay taxes and debts, and transfer the remaining assets to rightful heirs and beneficiaries.
Essentially, the estate will be administered according to the provisions and instructions of the will and estate plan or the state's intestate succession laws – if the person died intestate or without a valid will.
Responsibilities of the Executor
In Ohio probate, the court will appoint an executor or administrator to oversee the estate administration process. Here are some duties and responsibilities of the executor:
Collect and manage all probate assets of the deceased person.
Evaluate the true value of each property and asset.
Locate vital documents, such as titles, account statements, insurance policies, and retirement plans.
Notify all interested parties about the decedent's demise
Prepare an inventory of the estate's assets and property
Collect any money, rent, interests, or benefits owed to the deceased.
Determine and pay all known creditors and unpaid debts
Prepare and file income and federal estate tax returns
Distribute the remaining estate's assets to rightful beneficiaries and heirs.
A trusted estate administration lawyer can help you understand your duties as an executor and determine who will pay any outstanding debts.
Who Is Responsible for a Deceased Relative's Debts?
In Ohio, the deceased person's estate will be legally responsible for repaying their unpaid debts. Essentially, the executor will pay any outstanding balance from the estate's money or assets. All debts and taxes must be paid before the remaining assets are transferred to inheritors.
Generally, debts are often settled according to their order of priority. In a situation where there are insufficient funds or assets to cover the outstanding debts, the creditors may settle for partial payment or take additional legal action.
What to Do if a Debt Collector Harasses the Relative of the Deceased Debtor
As mentioned earlier, only the decedent's estate is liable for paying off all outstanding debts uncured before the person's demise. Any creditor or debt collector that harasses the relative of the deceased debtor is violating federal law and may be found guilty of debt collection harassment.
If a debt collector is harassing you regarding a deceased loved one's debt, you should reach out to a seasoned consumer protection attorney immediately. Your lawyer can protect you from the illegal practices of debt collectors and help you seek relief.
Detail-Oriented Legal Counsel
Dealing with the outstanding debts of a deceased loved one can be daunting. Regardless, understanding the estate administration process and rules addressing debt repayment during the process can make it easier to make intelligent decisions. Attorney David Bale is poised and ready to advise and guide individuals and families through the complexities involved in probate and estate settlement.
As your legal counsel, David can help you understand your duties after a loved one dies, determine the debts you need to pay back, and advise you on your legal options to settle any outstanding debts. In addition, Attorney David Bale will work diligently with the executor to settle all estate taxes and unpaid debts, perform other estate settlement tasks, and help protect surviving loved ones from creditor harassment.
Contact The Law Office of David G. Bale today to schedule a simple case evaluation with a trusted probate lawyer. Attorney David Bale can offer you the personalized legal guidance and advocacy you need to settle your deceased loved one's debts and administer their estate brilliantly. The firm proudly serves clients across Westerville, Worthington, and New Albany, as well as throughout Franklin County and Delaware County, Ohio.