What bills/expenses in my father’s name can my mother not take on liability for?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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What bills/expenses in my father’s name can my mother not take on liability for?

He away with more debt then assets. My primary concern at the moment is his

vehicle, which is solely in his name. My mom has not been able to work for years due to a back/neck injury so they did not add her to the loan. He passed at 62, so she seems to not be able to collect social security on him. He had no Will or Trust and only enough saving to carry her for a few months. Her only hope at the moment is that he has some kind of pension from work but he has only been there 4 years. What she can do with his vehicle?

Asked on June 22, 2018 under Estate Planning, Kansas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

It depends on whether the vehicle was paid off or not. If it had been paid in full, if they were married at the time he died, then the vehicle is inherited 1/2 by her and 1/2 in equal shares by his children (e.g. you) under the Kansas rules for "intestate succession" (who inherits what when there is no wll); his children (again, such as you) can voluntarily "disclaim" or give up their inheritance of the vehicle and let it go 100% to your mother.
If your mother and father were not married when he passed, then a fully paid off car is inherited solely by his children.
But if there is still an outstanding loan balance on the vehicle, it must be paid before it can be inherited. If it is not paid (it came due when he passed away), the lender can repossess the car; the lender's right to be paid the loan supercedes inheritance rights. So if there was still a loan on it, someone will need to pay it for your mother (and/or you and any siblings of yours) to inherit.

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