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When your parents die broke

Losing a parent is one of the most difficult things you may ever go through, and learning to adjust to life without your mother or father can take considerable time and effort. In addition to the emotional toll losing a parent can take on you, things may become even more complicated and difficult if your parents die without any money or assets at their disposal.

If you find yourself facing such a situation, you may have questions about whether creditors are going to come after you because of your parents’ debts. While every situation differs to some extent, here is a summary of what you need to know if your parents die broke.

You are probably not on the hook for their debts

Unless you and your deceased parent applied for credit together or co-signed on a particular purchase, creditors probably cannot come after you to cover your parents’ debts. If there is not enough in your parent’s estate to cover his or her debts, a surviving spouse may or may not have to cover them, but chances are, you will not.

Do not believe everything debt collectors say

Remember, a debt collector’s sole purpose is to collect money to cover a debt by any means necessary, and they may employ shady tactics in doing so. For example, a debt collector may try and convince you that it is your ethical duty to cover your mom or dad’s debts, but think twice and do your research before simply handing over money.

Be a thorough record-keeper

If you are an executor over your parent’s estate, or if you are receiving multiple communications about your parent’s debts, make sure to take comprehensive notes anytime you talk to anyone. Take care to record the date, time of the call, details of the call and the name of the person with whom you spoke. You never know when you may need to reference this information down the line.

In many cases, you are not responsible when your parents die without money. Before paying anyone anything, assess your situation and find out whether you are truly responsible for doing so.


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