My parents were in debt. Do I have to repay?

When you are handling the death of a parent or other family member, the last thing you want to deal with is bill collectors coming after you for debt that your loved one owed. Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence for many Detroit residents. If your family member owed money, are you obligated to pay back his or her debts?

According to NerdWallet, it is not your responsibility to pay another family member’s debt unless you were a co-signer of a loan. However, debt collectors will often tell you otherwise. In their attempts to collect, they may tell you that you must repay your family member’s debt. This is often an effective strategy. Faced with the threat of collection agencies and bad credit, you might believe it is in your best interest to pay off what is owed. Fortunately for you, the Federal Trade Commission has made it unlawful for collectors to harass people for another family member’s debt, and someone else’s bills will not affect your credit rating.

However, creditors do have the right to file a claim against your relative’s estate for an amount owed, after funeral costs, taxes and mortgage loans are paid by the estate. Before you and the other beneficiaries to a will can collect an inheritance, funds made from the sale of your relative’s assets must first be used to repay debts. If there is still a remainder owed after all of the estate has been used to pay creditors, then you should not be required to pay the balance.

Since collectors may resort to shady and sometimes illegal tactics, it may be advisable to seek professional help if your parents left behind significant debt. This information, however, should not replace the advice of a lawyer.