Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Am I Responsible for My Parents' Debts?

As an estate planning attorney I am routinely asked "will I be responsible for my parents' debts when they die?".  A blog is not a vehicle for distributing legal advice, but from an education perspective I can share with you what I share with my clients.

Photo credit: - free image

In Wisconsin adult children are not responsible for their parents' debts.  However, if that child co-signs on a loan, credit card application, or assisted living contract, liability for payments may be established.  What to take from this is, if you live in Wisconsin (sorry for those out-of-state) you will not be responsible for your parents' debts unless you agree to pay for them.  That is why the old saying "read before you sign" is so vitally important.

If a parent dies and leaves behind bills that exceed the assets in probate, what occurs is an insolvent estate.  Using statutory guidelines, repayment will be made to certain creditors first.  For example, the cost of administration and monies owed to government entities are paid before consumer debt.  If there is not enough money to go around, the debts are either reduced or not paid at all.

Again, this blog does not dispense legal advice.  Please seek counsel from an attorney for legal advice specific to your situation.  Thanks for reading.

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