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Elder Planning Isn't Just For The Elderly

Managing an estate when the decedent had debts

The word “debt” often has negative connotations. Debts can be burdensome, long-lasting, and can affect the ways that New Yorkers spend and save their money. However, some debts, while not necessarily good, are not as negative as others. For example, when a person takes out a mortgage to buy a home, that debt may give them an opportunity to get into the real property market.

While some debts may be resolved in the short term, other debts like mortgages may be paid off over decades. In some cases, individuals with long-term debts may pass away before their debts are paid off in full. When this happens the individual’s heirs may wonder what obligations they have, if any, to repay the money that the decedent still owed on their debts.

Generally, if an heir was not a co-signor or significant beneficiary of the decedent’s debt or loan, they will not be personally bound to repay it. In some cases individuals take out loans together, and if a co-debtor passes away the other party or parties on the loan may become fully responsible for its repayment. If, though, the only debtor is the decedent, then the debt may die with them.

Depending on the type of debt and the lender who holds it, in some cases repayment of debts may be sought from decedent’s end-of-life estates. In such situations estate administrators should be prepared to assess whether or not the estate is liable for the repayment of such claims. Doing so can be difficult, and when debt and estate administration problems come up individuals can always turn to their trusted estate planning attorneys for help.


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