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What happens to a loved one’s debt after death?

On Behalf of | May 1, 2020 | probate litigation |

Losing a loved one is difficult, even if it is expected. It takes time for life to return to normal. At some point during the grieving process, family members will need to turn their attention to closing out the Nashville resident’s estate. As part of the probate process, they will need to figure out what happens to their loved one’s debt now that he or she is gone.

One of the first questions many people ask is what they do about the debts a loved one left behind, particularly whether surviving family members are responsible for paying those obligations. Under most circumstances, they will not be responsible for payment. However, some circumstances exist in which it is possible that a family member will need to settle a particular debt.

For instance, if someone was a co-signer on a debt, the lender will look to that individual for payment. The same applies when the deceased individual had joint debts. The surviving individual on these debts will ordinarily assume full responsibility for them.

Of course, it may be possible to pay off some debts, if not all, from the assets in the estate. In fact, one of the duties of the executor or personal representative is to address the debts of the deceased individual. Tennessee law outlines a process this person must follow as he or she deals with this and other issues of the estate.

As is the case with any other part of the probate process, dealing with a loved one’s debt must be addressed prior to making any distributions. Once all lenders and creditors are dealt with in accordance with the circumstances of a particular debt, the executor or personal representative can then move forward. A  Nashville attorney experienced in this area of law can assist in this process, along with all other aspects of the probate process.