Am I responsible for my mother’s debt now that she’s passed away?

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Am I responsible for my mother’s debt now that she’s passed away?

My mother passed away andher house is going into foreclosure. I own my own home and have no interest in hers. Can I be held responsible for her property? She had no power of attorney nor did she have a Will and I never agreed to assume her debt in the event of her death.

Asked on October 31, 2010 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin

Answers:

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

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

You can relax - children  do not inherit debt.  However, this does not mean the your mother's creditor has no recourse here.  By way of background, when a person dies without a Will, there are said to have died "intestate" In such a case the intestacy laws of the state where your mother was domiciled at the time of her death will prevail.  They will address just how the financial affairs of her estate are handled - both assets and debts.  The personal representative (the equivalent of an executor in an case of intestacy) will sell all, if any, assets in the estate to pay for any debts that remain.  Only after the debts are paid will the remaining assets be distributed among the heirs. If there are no assets left, or if there are not enough assets to pay of debts, then any debt remaing extinguishes as a matter of law (there is nothing to collect against). 


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