After you pass away, your loved ones and family members will need to deal with their grief and emotions. Unfortunately, they will also need to handle important administrative and legal matters. In the vast majority of cases, a person leaves behind more than just real estate and personal keepsakes after he or she dies; there is often debt left behind, as well. This is especially true where the decedent required extended or extensive medical care in the months or even years leading up to death. Family members are often overwhelmed by the administrative and legal assets that need to be dealt with after the death of a loved one. One of the most common questions is whether the family members should pay your bills after you pass away.
The short answer to this is “probably not.” The initial question to whether your family should pay your bills when you die is whether any of your other family members were also named on the debt. If the family members are not named on a bill, then they are not liable for the debt. It is not uncommon for debt collectors to pressure surviving relatives to pay off a debt as soon as possible. This is because otherwise they will have to wait for the estate to go through probate to get paid. A debt collector may use pressure tactics or guilt to try to get your family members to pay off your debt after you pass away, but if they are not named on the debt, they are not obligated to pay. Alert your family members that debt collectors tend to use particular phrases such as “this needs to be made right” or “you should pay this debt to make sure you don’t ruin your father’s good name.” These are guilt tactics and have no legal backing. Minnesota statute § 548.07 provides that your family does not inherit your debt. Rather, your outstanding debts will be paid from the assets in your estate. If the assets in your estate are insufficient to cover all of your debt, the creditors are out of luck; they cannot pursue family members not already named on the debt.
If you have questions about how your debt will be handled after you die, let us answer them. Call us today at (320) 299-4249 and talk with us about your estate.