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Question:


Am I responsible for my recently deceased mother's debts (vehicle, mortgage, credit cards)? She and my father divorced many years ago, and she never remarried. I am her only child.
-LaurelMK


Answer:


You probably aren't responsible, at least not directly, as long as her debts are not also your debts, say if you bought a home or car jointly or co-signed on a loan. But if there are assets in her estate, such as the home and vehicle that were financed with the debt, then the debts have to be paid off with those assets before anything left can pass to you or any other heirs that your mother might have. If the assets that she owned when she died were worth less than the amount she owed, her creditors are still entitled to claim them. Chances are that they would only seek to collect if she held real estate or financial assets that have significant value and are easily converted to cash. It's unlikely that creditors would make the estate - which essentially means you, if you are your mother's only heir - sell personal possessions with little market value. In any case, if your mother left more liabilities than assets, you do not have to make up the shortfall.
-Conrad de Aenlle



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