Will my children be sent to jail for my debts if I die and leave a mortgage and no assets at all?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022Fact Checked

Get Legal Help Today

Compare Quotes From Top Companies and Save

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Will my children be sent to jail for my debts if I die and leave a mortgage and no assets at all?

I am 62 and have been sick for over a year; I am dying and bedridden now. Most seniors have a nest egg but I do not; I have absolutely no money at all or assets neither do they except for their own homes. Will they have to be jailed because of me? I know it maybe rare but what would be done?

Asked on January 5, 2019 under Estate Planning, New Jersey


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

1) There is no such thing as debtor's prison in the U.S.--people do not go to jail/prison for unpaid debts. They can go for committing fraud or other financial crimes, but not just for being in debt. You can be sued for not paying a debt, but not jailed.
2) Your children are NOT responsible for your debts anyway, unless they cosigned or guaranteed them. Debts are not inherited. So if they did not cosign/guaranty/etc. your debts, they don't need to pay them.
3) Creditors can put claims in against or sue your "estate"--the money, assets, and property you leave behind. So it is possibly that some or all of what you might otherwise be able to leave your children might be used up for debt. But if there is no money or property/assets and you children will not be inheriting from you anyway, this is not an issue.

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 AttorneyPages.com 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.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

secured lock Secured with SHA-256 Encryption