Tip 1: Don’t Sign Anything
Though it is a rather abhorrent practice, creditors will often try to get a family member to pay for the debts a deceased person left behind. Some creditors will try to persuade the family members that they should feel obligated to pay, even though they are not legally responsible for doing so. They may try to ask, for example, for you to assume an unpaid credit card debt. Don’t. You are under no legal obligation to pay for the debt a deceased family member left behind no matter how guilty the creditors try to make you feel.
Tip 2: Contact the Estate
If a family member left behind debt, that debt must be paid by the deceased person’s estate. In order to be repaid, the creditors have to contact the estate and file a claim. If they are calling you and putting pressure on you to pay, you should contact the estate representative as soon as possible. You can also send a letter to the creditor informing it of the death of the family member and include the contact information for the estate representative.
Tip 3: Don’t Act Quickly
The grieving process can take time, and creditors know this. They also know that you are more likely to make a rash decision and choose to pay off a deceased family member debts while you are grieving. If you are being subjected to multiple phone calls or communications, you should demand the creditors cease contacting you. If they continue to do so, or if they harass you, threaten you, or take similar actions, you can file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission as well as sue them for a violation of debt collection laws.
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