Can you inherit debt?

Question

Can you inherit debt?

Answer

There is good news for anyone concerned about inheriting debt. The fact is that inheriting debt is not possible unless you were a holder of the debt. This question often arises from sons and daughters who want to know if they will inherit debt from their parents after they die. This is not possible unless a child was a part of the loan or agreement that created the debt.

What You Need to Know

Inherit is the key word to pay attention to here. Though it is possible for someone to have to pay a deceased person’s debt, inheriting the debt is not likely to occur. Take into consideration a few important things about debts left behind by the deceased:

  • When a person dies, any debts in that person’s name must be paid by the liquidation of the person’s estate. This may mean selling property to pay the debt back.
  • Debts come before inheritances to others. If a home has been left to a child, for example, in a will, but there is a mortgage on that home, the mortgage must be paid off for the child to obtain the home, or the home will be sold to repay the debt.
  • A husband or wife may need to pay back a spouse's debts, unless it is possible to show that the surviving spouse was not responsible for those debts.

If you are concerned about how to handle a deceased family member's or anyone else's debt, work with a debt settlement attorney. The attorney will help ensure that the right person is responsible for repaying the debt owed.

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