If my mother passed away recently, do I have to sell the house and car to pay her credit card debt of $3,000?

She had a credit card debt. After paying medical bills upon her death, and bills to keep up the house, there was not any money left. I am executor of the estate and there is a car worth about $500 and she has a house that is completely paid for. The real estate market is slow and it would take a year or more to sell the home, if it would sell. It needs extensive repairs but is livable.

Asked on June 4, 2014 under Estate Planning, South Carolina

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

Those are debts of the estate and as executor, you are supposed to, as necessary, sell assets to pay those debts. If you do not, creditors--the credit card company--could theoretically sue her estate and, if the win, put a lien on property (such as the house) to make sure it gets paid. For $3,000 they may not do so, but they would have the  legal right to do this.


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