Are Children Legally Responsible for Their Deceased Parent’s Debt?

  • Illinois Probate Law
  • Probate
Illinois Probate Law: Are Children Legally Responsible for Their Deceased Parent’s Debt? | Chicago Lawyer Mario Godoy | Estate and Probate Legal Group

Unless they co-signed a loan or credit card or jointly own property, children are not personally responsible for their deceased parent’s debt in Illinois – but the estate is. If the parents’ estate has money or other assets, the estate is required to pay debts before paying the heirs. This can include unpaid medical bills, funeral bills and other expenses.

In Illinois, you can be held personally responsible for your deceased parents’ debt if you:

  • Co-signed or guaranteed a loan or line of credit for them
  • Co-signed a credit card for them
  • Jointly own property
  • If a parent’s assets are transferred to their child shortly before their death to avoid paying debts
  • Mismanagement of a parent’s estate

But in general, children are not responsible for their parents’ medical bills and other debts if the estate cannot cover the debt.

If You Are Executor of Your Parent’s Will

If you are the legal executor of your parent’s will, and your parents died with debt, then you must comply with probate laws and are legally responsible for resolving the estate debt. (link to probate lawyer blog)

Sometimes children of executors act too quickly to pay off their parents’ debt and may pay bills out of the estate’s assets for which they are not liable, or use the estate’s cash which they might need for other expenses. An experienced probate lawyer can advise you on the debt left behind and paying claims and expenses.

Debt Collectors

If your parent dies and is in debt, and you did not co-sign for this debt, debt collectors are not allowed to call you to demand payment. The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) says,

“family members typically are not obligated to pay the debts of a deceased relative from their own assets. What’s more, family members – and all consumers – are protected by the federal Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), which prohibits debt collectors from using abusive, unfair, or deceptive practices to try to collect a debt.”

If you are being harassed for your deceased parent’s debt by debt collectors, you can request they not contact you, and if you feel the FDCPA is being violated, you can sue the debt collection company and the individual debt collector for damages and attorney fees.

Meeting with a Probate, Trust, & Estates attorney helps you understand and manage any debt in your parents’ estate. To talk to a Dupage County estates and probate attorney contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group in Lombard Illinois at (630) 382-8065.