Can I be held liable for my deceased mother’s debt?

My mom died a year ago. She had no Will; she had no assets. Her home went into default. The bank is suing her and has named my siblings and I in the lawsuit as defendants. We did not raise an estate because she had a lot of medical bills and no assets. My father is also deceased and she did not remarry.

Asked on September 5, 2018 under Estate Planning, Pennsylvania


M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, children cannot be held liable for a deceased parent's debt. That is unless they agreed to be and in writing, or were on a joint account of some kind. 

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

No, you are not liable for any of your mother's debts unless you personally guaranteed or co-signed for them: one adult is not liable for another adult's debts without agreeing to cover them, even a parent's, with the narrow exception (not applicable here) that a spouse can be held liable for certain "necessary" (e.g. required medical care) debts of a spouse.

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