If my mother died without a Will, could I be held responsible if she has any debts?

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If my mother died without a Will, could I be held responsible if she has any debts?

I am her only child and she was unmarried (divorced). Will there be any type of estate proceeding? She didn’t really have any assets that I know of accept for a car that she was paying off. What happens if she has any debts?

Asked on June 7, 2011 under Estate Planning, Arkansas

Answers:

M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

I am so sorry for your loss.  In very rare instances is there really no estate when someone passes away.  The debts are part of their estate.  And any bank account - no matter how small - is an asset.  The car loan is also something that has to be dealt with.  Do you have the documents involved with the loan?  The loan is a debt of the estate.  You need to gather all of your mother's things and all of her bank accounts, etc., and all of her bills and sit down and see what the totals of each are.  Then you can decide how to proceed.  There is a mechanism known as a small estate proceeding and each state generally has one available.  You can then probate the estate through the small estate proceeding, pay her debts or give back the car (if permitted under the agreement) and finalize all the issues.  Good luck.


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