If someone dies and they have outstanding bills who is liable for them?

UPDATED: Nov 10, 2011

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If someone dies and they have outstanding bills who is liable for them?

What happens if this person left no valuable assets or enough insurance money to pay their debt off?If this someone still owes for the home’s mortgage and the other person that is on the loan is still living what happens then, would the debt collectors put a lien on the home? If there is a power of attorney or executor of the estate are they responsible?

Asked on November 10, 2011 under Estate Planning, Virginia


M.T.G., Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

Although it is difficult to determine where you are in the person's lifetime that we are talking about, I get the feeling that they have already passed and I am sorry for your loss.  Generally speaking - as you have many questions here and we need to narrow things down - the estate of the decedent is responsible for their debt.  An estate can indeed be insolvent just like a live person and file for bankruptcy.  A Power of Attorney dies with the person for who it is enacted so that is no longer valid.  The Executor of the Will is now in charge of sorting things out - gathering assets and debt and paying debt with the assets.  As for the house, one needs to see the documentation and understand the relationship involved.  Are both people on the mortgage?  Is it a husband and wife and did the House pass one to the other automatically ("rights of survivorship") at death?  Please get help here.  Good luck.

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