Losing a loved one is a hard event for anyone. Once the final arrangements are made, thoughts turn to settling the final affairs of that person. Doing so means handling debts that the deceased family member left behind. Our Florida readers might find the answers to some basic questions about debts after death interesting.
Am I responsible for paying for my loved one's bills?
No, heirs and beneficiaries generally aren't responsible for paying their loved one's debts. The person's estate might be responsible for paying for those debts. In some cases, the creditors will have to simply let the debts go when a person passes away. The exception to this would be if the debts were jointly held. If there are joint debts and the other party is still living, that party will be responsible for paying the debts co-held with the person who passed away.
How are mortgage debts handled?
If the person who passed away was married and the spouse was listed as a joint owner on the mortgage, the spouse is responsible for the mortgage. The mortgage isn't forgiven. The surviving spouse can decide if they want to continue to pay for the home to live in it or if they want to sell the home to pay for the mortgage.
Can debts cancel out life insurance policies?
Life insurance policies aren't part of the person's estate. The life insurance policy belongs to the beneficiary, so that money can't be claimed by creditors when the insured person passes away.
Handling a person's monetary affairs after he or she passes away is part of the estate administrator's duties. Knowing how to handle these creditors isn't always easy. Learning where you stand on a legal basis might help you to deal with them more effectively when the time comes.
Source: FindLaw, "Debts After Death" accessed Mar. 05, 2015