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As the estate executor, do you have to pay your parents’ debts?

On Behalf of | Apr 14, 2024 | Probate

When someone drafts an estate plan, they will pick an estate executor or an estate administrator. The documentation from the estate plan tells the administrator what the deceased person wanted to have happened with their assets. But it is up to the administrator to use that documentation and take the proper steps to carry out this plan.

For instance, if your parents named you as the administrator, you may have to take an inventory of all of the assets that are listed in the estate plan. Once you have located them all, you can then distribute them to the correct beneficiaries. You have the important job of carrying out the plan, which can take months and sometimes even over a year.

As you perform these duties, though, you may realize that your parents still have a lot of debt. Maybe they owe medical bills from the last months of their life, or perhaps they have credit card debt. Maybe they have to pay income taxes and property taxes. Are you going to have to do this for them, as well?

Use the funds from the estate

You do have to pay these debts, but you don’t have to do it yourself. Instead, you should be able to use the funds that are already within the estate to handle the debt that your parents still owe. Use their money to pay off the debt and then distribute the remaining assets. You do not inherit these debts – as people are sometimes concerned.

You have a lot of responsibilities as an estate executor and it can be a complex role. Take the time to carefully consider all of your legal options.