The death of a family member or loved one is a difficult experience to go through. It can be even tougher if the loved one owed creditors at the time of their death. One critical thing to know is that relatives are not responsible for the debt of loved ones who have passed away. The only exception is if the relative co-signed a loan with the deceased person. In all other cases, it is not the responsibility of living relatives to pay off the debt.
The deceased person’s estate is responsible for paying their debts. Still, creditors might contact relatives about their loved one’s debt, and some might even try to demand payment. Miami debt defense and probate attorneys can help stop creditor harassment and ensure the loved one’s estate is properly managed. Here are steps relatives can take themselves to stop harassment over the debt of their loved ones, while ensuring those debts are paid by the estate.
1.Make a List of Creditors
The first step a surviving family member should take is to identify every known creditor of the deceased, including names, addresses and contact information. The type of debt and the approximate amounts the decedent owed to each creditor should also be included if the information is known. In order to obtain this information, one can review the deceased’s mail, bank statements and personal financial files on their computer.
2. Contact Creditors
If the estate is probated, the personal representative or executer will send official notice of the estate owner’s death to all known creditors. Despite this, close family members might still have to deal with creditor calls. It is vital for relatives to inform each creditor of the debtor’s death and forward a copy of the death certificate if requested. Inform them about the status of the estate, whether it is probated or not and so on. When contacting creditors, it’s important to take account of the date, time, and name of the person spoken with and write a brief summary of what was discussed. The surviving relative should avoid giving personal contact information to creditors, instead providing the contact information of the estate’s personal representative or executor.
3. Stop Creditor Calls
Family members, with the exception of co-signers, are not legally responsible for payment of their deceased loved one’s debt. They must explicitly state to creditors that they will not be paying the debt and want the creditors to stop contacting them. Any verbal communication must be followed up with writing, preferably certified mail with a return receipt requested. These documents will give a record of when the letter was sent and received. After receiving this letter, creditors can no longer legally contact the relatives to demand payment.
After losing a loved one, creditor harassment is the last thing the grieving family wants to deal with. Relatives can take the actions above to stop creditors’ unscrupulous demands for payment.
Since state and local laws change often, you can consult with Miami debt defense and probate attorneys at Graham Legal for the most up-to-date advice on how to handle these types of situations. If you have questions about your deceased relative’s debt and estate, you can call our team of experts today.