Are children responsible for a parent’s debts following the parent’s death?

By Attorney Thom Cooper

Following a parent’s death, children often receive medical bills or other bills for products or services that the parent received during their lifetime. Sometimes the children even receive bills from collection agencies. Who is responsible for paying these bills?

Generally children or family members are not responsible for a parent’s debts but it is important to know your rights since collection agencies often target a decedent’s children or relatives. Normally the estate of the parent is responsible for paying any debts of the parent. If the estate does not have enough money, the debts will go unpaid. Children are not even required to assist the collection agency or provide information to the collection agency with respect to a claim unless they are the legally appointed personal representative or executor. Collection agencies may not attempt to collect debts from children or other relatives unless the children were cosigners or guarantors.

If a debt collector contacts you with respect to a parent’s debt, give the debt collector the name of your parents personal representative or executor. If an executor has not been appointed, or you have no involvement in the matter, tell the debt collector that you are not involved with the matter and ask that they not call you again.

If the debt collector won’t stop contacting you, send a certified letter to the debt collector saying that you do not want to be contacted again and be sure to keep a copy of the letter. Once the debt collector receives such a letter the collector can only contact you to tell you that there will be no further contact or inform you of a lawsuit. If you continue to have problems, contact Ohio’s Attorney General or the Federal Trade Commission.

For any specific questions about what to do following a parents death fell free contact our office for a free consultation.

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