legal responsibilities regarding my Mother-In-Law’s estate

Mom passed away in February of 2018. She had no savings accounts, CD’s, stocks, bonds, etc. The only thing she possessed in her name was the three family home that she lived in. She had credit card outstanding balances and as the Administrator of her estate, I would like to know what the estates responsibilities are regarding her credit card debt,which is only in her name. Do we have to sell her house in order to pay off her credit card debt or how can we legally handle this situation.

Asked on March 24, 2018 under Estate Planning, Connecticut


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

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

An estate is liable for all of debts of the deceased. Accordingly, if a creditor puts in a claim then it must be paid before any distribution of assets can be made to the beneficiaries. This means that estate assets must be sold if necessary. That having been said, many creditors do not follow through with a claim if the debt is not of an amount great enough to warrant spending the time on to collect; that is a creditor can choose to walk away from what it is owed.

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

Your mother's estate must pay her debts if the credit card company puts in a claim for them (which they may; some creditors give up on debts when the debtor passes away). If a claim is put in, then if the only asset is the home, you would have to sell it to satisfy that claim.

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