Can someone file bankruptcy on an estate?

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Can someone file bankruptcy on an estate?

My mom recently passed away and now medical bills are coming to my dad that say the “estate of” my father cannot afford these bills so he is wondering if he can claim bankruptcy on my moms estate and if this will affect his credit? Will the creditor be able to come after him for the money, or will his pay be garnished, and if so, can he himself claim bankruptcy and include my moms medical bills?

Asked on March 1, 2011 under Bankruptcy Law, Washington

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

With very few exceptions, most bills are completely dischargeable in bankruptcy.  As to whether your father's credit would be affected if he had the estate claim bankruptcy, the answer is unfortunately the estate cannot claim bankruptcy.  Only the debtor can claim bankruptcy, and that would be if your mother was alive. If your mother was alive, the answer would be it all depends on the claims brought in bankruptcy, whether the court accepts them, the trustee requires an accounting by your father and what joint assets there are that are part of the bankruptcy estate. Your father can bring those items into the probate court and if the probate court finds that after certain expenses, there are not enough assets to pay debts, then those by default really become uncollectible.  Whether the creditor can go after your father's assets depend really on how the property is held and if your father claims bankruptcy. Before doing anything that could negatively impact both the estate and your father, he should consult with an estate planning attorney who specializes in bankruptcies.


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