Am I responsible for my late mother’s debts?

UPDATED: Mar 18, 2013

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Am I responsible for my late mother’s debts?

I was born 50 years ago and adopted as an infant. About 11 years ago, I searched and found my birth mother. Our relationship since then has been nothing more than a phone call on my birthday from her once per year. Recently she passed away and listed me as a beneficiary to her life insurance policy and other benefits. My 3 half-siblings feel I am 1/4 responsible for her final expenses: funeral, hospital, personal, etc. Am I? Will I have to prove I was adopted if she has listed me as her “daughte?

Asked on March 18, 2013 under Estate Planning, Wisconsin


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

You are only responsible for any obligations you agreed or contracted for.  If your siblings negotiated the funeral expenses and arrangements, then they are the ones legally obligated to pay those expenses.   Your mom's estate is responsible for any of your mom's expenses like personal and medical expenses.  Before anything is divided, those expenses should be paid first.  This would be the same regardless of whether you were adopted or not.

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