Is a beneficiary responsible for the deceased’s debt?

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Is a beneficiary responsible for the deceased’s debt?

My father passed away with a Will in place and named me the beneficiary. He had debt. He had also been living with a woman for over 15 years but never married her. Who is responsible for the debt?

Asked on June 29, 2011 under Estate Planning, Ohio

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A beneficiary is under no obligation to pay outstanding claims agaisnt an estate; people do not not typically inherit debt.  Benficiaries are entitled to proceeds free and clear.  However, no proceeds will be paid out until all debts of the estate have been settled.   Therefore any inheritance payable to you will be decreased by the amount of bills and other debt that must be paid out to creditors. Additionally, for example, if your father's girlfriend was a joint account holder on one of his credit card accounts she too would bear liability for such debt.

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

A beneficiary is under no obligation to pay outstanding claims agaisnt an estate; people do not not typically inherit debt.  Benficiaries are entitled to proceeds free and clear.  However, no proceeds will be paid out until all debts of the estate have been settled.   Therefore any inheritance payable to you will be decreased by the amount of bills and other debt that must be paid out to creditors. Additionally, for example, if your father's girlfriend was a joint account holder on one of his credit card accounts she too would bear liability for such debt.


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