Although probate can put some undo stress on an already stressful family situation, probate can be utterly necessary and even useful when there are debts in the estate picture.
So, how do you handle debts after death? It is a practical question, after all. Few of us leave this life without something lingering in our accounts payable. Unfortunately, too many families do not know which debts live on after their loved ones are gone.
Fortunately, MoneyTalkNews took up this matter in a recent article titled “Debt After Death: 10 Things You Need to Know.”
The central bit of wisdom to take away from the article is the difference between the one who took on certain debts (the decedent) and their heirs. Problems arise, however, when they have muddied that boundary. Generally, when the debtor passes away, their debts do not transfer to their heirs or family members. The debts fall to the estate and the probate process.
As a court proceeding, officially, probate varies in some respects. Nevertheless, probate is the proper forum to deal with debts after death. This is the period when creditors can make their claims. Everything should be done to ensure that creditors get funneled into the probate process without disturbing the family.
More specifically, creditors should be pointed to the executor. In addition, all avenues of credit and credit reporting should be informed and closed off. Of course, there are certain types of assets when heirs really are on the hook, especially when it comes to assets for which the heirs have co-signed.
Take a look at the 10 tips in the original article and be sure to follow them, because creditors are not always honest. Some creditors are not ashamed to pester a grieving family.
Reference: MoneyTalkNews (October 7, 2013) “Debt After Death: 10 Things You Need to Know”