re children liable for their deceased parent’s debts?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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re children liable for their deceased parent’s debts?

My dad died recently and didn’t have a Will. He owned a trailer and paid lot rent; he was $2000 behind. Are we responsible for this? The only thing that he owned was some old cars which he signed into my name when he was in hospital in case something happened during surgery.

Asked on September 22, 2018 under Estate Planning, Ohio


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

No, children do not inherit a parent's debts: you are only responsible for them if you cosigned or guaranteed them, or if they are a secured debt on some property you want (e.g. car financing or a mortgage) and you want to keep that property (e.g. the car or house): in that case, to avoid the property being repossessed or foreclosed, you'd have to pay.
The creditors could sue his "estate"--what he left behind. IF he transferred the old cars to you without you paying fair market value for them shortly before he died, it is possible that if the creditors become aware of the cars and want to try to force their sale to pay the debts, that they could undo the transfer to you and get the cars. A transfer of assets made to avoid creditors, etc. getting them, when the assets were not sold for fair market value, is often considered a "fraudulent transfer" (i.e. intended to defraud creditors) and may be vacated by the courts.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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