Who pays the debts of a deceased person?

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Who pays the debts of a deceased person?

My father recently passed away without a will. I am his daughter and was his caretaker for the last 2 months of his life. I also hold a financial Durable POA. He was still married at the time of his death but she did not partake in his financial or physical needs. That was all handled by me. I held a joint bank account with my father in which he requested that his wife not have access to. She acquired all his assets except for the joint account I held with him. Am I responsible to pay medical bills, taxes, other debt from that account or does his wife acquire those debts as well?

Asked on September 9, 2012 under Estate Planning, Utah

Answers:

FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 8 years ago | Contributor

Under the probate laws of all states of this country, your father's "estate" is responsible for paying all outstanding debts that he had upon his death. This is why Wills are probated and if a person dies without a Will his or her estate is subject to an intestacy proceeding in the probate court in the county where the decedent resided.

From what you have written, since your father passed without a Will and presumably without a trust, his estate is subject to an intestacy proceeding to close it out, pay off creditors and distribute his assets to those entitled to under your state's probate code. I suggest that you and your father's widow consult with a wills and trust attorney about filing an intestacy proceeding concerning his estate.


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