How do we handle the credit card companies and bill collectors who keep trying to get us to pay our father’s debt now that he has passed away?

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How do we handle the credit card companies and bill collectors who keep trying to get us to pay our father’s debt now that he has passed away?

My father recently passed away. He was disabled and did not acquire any considerable assets while married. My parents both live with me in my house so I can look after them. The credit cards were under his name ( I do not believe my mom co-signed any cards; father would not allow it). He has no Will and no one who could be considered an executor or administrator to any “estate” under sis name. I live in a community propety state.

Asked on January 24, 2012 under Estate Planning, Texas

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You are not personally liable for his debt--debts do not pass parent to child.

However, if you are in a community property state, your mother most likely is liable--in a community property state, not just the assets of each spouse, but also their debts or liabilities, become the "property" of both; therefore, if the credit card debt was (presumably) acquired during marriage, you mother may well be responsible for it. Your mother should consult with an attorney about her rights and options--that is, assuming the debt is great enough to make that worthwhile. If the debt is smaller than the cost of hiring a lawyer, she probably should just pay it to avoid potential collections and litigation.


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