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When a loved one passes away, the last thing on your mind is hassling with debt collectors. But you may have the job of managing the deceased’s assets – and you could find yourself handling an estate that includes outstanding debts. Keep these considerations in mind:

  • Debts don’t die when the debtor does. Even though your loved one is no longer here, those debts don’t go away. The debt is still a legal obligation that your loved one’s estate must deal with.
  • Discussing the debt. Collectors are allowed to talk about the debt with certain people: the spouse, parents, or guardian of the deceased person, the executor, administrator, or anyone else who has authority to pay your loved one’s debts from their estate.
  • Truth be told. Collectors cannot misrepresent anything about the debt they’re trying to collect. That means they can’t misrepresent or imply that you or any other survivor has a legal obligation to pay the estate’s debts out of your own pocket. It’s unlawful for them to pressure you to use your money. If the deceased left debts and no assets, it’s not your responsibility to pay.
  • You have rights. If a debt collector contacts you, you can ask for a validation notice, dispute the debt with them, or tell them – in writing – to stop all communications with you and the estate.

Learn more about handling the debts of a deceased relative.

Tagged with: debt, debt collection
Blog Topics: 
Money & Credit


If you are the Administrator of the Deceased, do you have the right to pull the deceased's credit history from the three agency's to check if there is any outstanding debit and also to notify the them of the deceased passing to avoid fraud aka ghosting.

If you are the Administrator, a debt collector may contact you. Please see the FTC article about Debts and Deceased Relatives.

If you have other questions about estate administration and settling the debts of the deceased, you may need to consult a lawyer.

This contradicts what I heard an attorney say. Old debt sold over and over is multiplied many times and far more than original debt. Can they take any assets after you die based on what they say or must they provide documentation?

The federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) protects family members of a deceased person. The FDCPA prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to try to collect a debt.

Under the FDCPA, every collector must send you a written “validation notice” telling you how much money you owe within five days after they first contact you. This notice must include the name of the creditor you owe, and how to proceed if you don’t think you owe the money.

The FTC articles about Debts and Deceased Relatives and Debt Collection have more information.

What debts are considered when a person is deceased"

I had to deal with this when my parents passed away. Thanks so much for the information because not everyone know what measures to take.

How about insurance on credit cards?

Keep up the good work on getting rid of scammers. The process of it needs a tune up though it takes years not months to shut down a scammer. It should take up to at most a year tops to get enough information to have a case

Very informative. So if the person who died had no life insurance, property or savings account, no one is responsible, not even a spouse or child?

Please read the FTC article about Debts and Deceased Relatives for more information.

Family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets. But you might be responsible if you:

  • co-signed the obligation;
  • live in a community property state, such as California;
  • are the deceased person's spouse and state law requires you to pay a particular type of debt, like some health care expenses; or
  • were legally responsible for resolving the estate and didn't comply with certain state probate laws.

If you have questions about whether you are legally obligated to pay a deceased person's debts from your own assets, talk to a lawyer.

Thanks for this information. This is correct the debts does not disappear when love ones dies. The debt will come against the estates or any assets they have own. I have experienced this from 2005 through 2006.

It is possible that you could legally owe the debt of a loved one that passes away if the primary residence (your home)is in a community Property State. Those States are Alaska, Ariona, California, Idaho, Louisiana, Nevada, New Mexico, Texas, Washington, and Wisconson.

The FTC article about handling the debts of a deceased relative has more information.

If you have questions about whether you are legally obligated to pay a deceased person's debts from your own assets, talk to a lawyer.

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