If my husband’s mother recently passed away and he was awarded the property she lived on, can he lose it in a lawsuit?

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If my husband’s mother recently passed away and he was awarded the property she lived on, can he lose it in a lawsuit?

About 3 years ago, she caused an auto accident. The gentleman she hit decided last year to sue for more money that what was to be awarded by the insurance. Would my husband be liable in the suit as she had no estate?

Asked on January 6, 2016 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 5 years ago | Contributor

1) A child is not liable for his parent's actions, even if the parent was insolvent and could not pay any debts or judgments.
2) A person who inherits from another is not personally liable for the decedent's (person who died) debts or judgments.
3) There are three circumstances under which the property he inherited--nothing else of his, but that property--could be reached by the injured party (assuming he wins his lawsuit):
a) If the property has not been distributed to him yet but is still part of her estate: as long as it is part of her estate, it is subject to her creditors, even if an heir is expecting the property.
b) If there had been a lien placed on the property by the other party (such as pursuant to a judgment or court order) prior to your husband's mother dying; if so, that lien does not go away because she passed.
c) If your husband did not inherit the property when his mother died, but was given it by her while she was alive, but after the accident, when she could know or suspect that she would be sued...in that case, the transfer could be seen as one intended to defraud creditors and could be reversed by a court.


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