Dealing with the death of a parent can be devastating. Once the funeral is over, the closing of the estate begins. If your parents had a will, the executor may have information regarding all aspects of the estate. If you are the executor, you must deal with your emotions and the business side of losing a loved one. We often get asked, ‘What do I do with my parent’s bills after they die’? Many people are unsure if they are responsible for their parent’s unpaid debt.
In Illinois, a child is not responsible for their parent’s unpaid bills… but their estate is. A child is liable for their parent’s debts if they co-signed or jointly own the assets. And there are other instances in which you may have to pay the bills. This can include mismanagement of the estate or transferring assets to you immediately before their death to avoid bills.
When someone dies, all assets in their sole name pass to their estate. If they die with an unpaid debt, it should be paid from any money or property they left behind – if state law requires that it be paid. The estate must pay bills and debts before the beneficiaries can receive their portion of the estate. But remember, there are laws that protect family members from aggressive debt collectors who may use questionable methods to collect debts.
Sometimes children act too quickly to pay off their parent’s debt. They may pay bills out of their own pocket for which they are not liable.
In general, spouses and children are not responsible for a deceased person’s medical bills and other debts if the estate cannot cover the debt. An experienced probate lawyer can advise you on the debt left behind and pay claims and expenses. A qualified estate planning attorney can help you understand which bills must pay and how to close your parent’s estate.
Meeting with an estate attorney can help you understand and manage any debt in your parent’s estate. Contact the Estate & Probate Legal Group at (630)-864-5835 to talk to an estate attorney.
AREAS WE SERVE: Cook, DuPage, Kane, Lake and Will counties