I inherited an estate that had no assets. Am I responsible for selling the household goods to pay the debt?

Asked 8 months ago - Philadelphia, PA

If I inherited and am responsible for an estate that has large debts, (in this case, credit card, medical, mortgage, property tax) do I have to try to sell the furniture and the silver to pay them? What if I keep an item? Is someone going to sue me? And if I am, can I pay myself first for the time spent administering the estate to do this for the creditors? It's pretty time consuming.

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Thomas J. Wagner

    Contributor Level 19


    Lawyers agree

    Answered . It's technically incorrect to say you inherited when the estate is insolvent. As an heir you have no obligation to file a petition for probate. If you do then you take on the duties of an administrator or executor and can be paid out of the assets of the estate a reasonable fee for administering the estate (before any claims that don't involve liens on real estate). The reasonable consts of administration of the estate are payable prior to any unsecured creditors. Additionally if there is a family exemption that gets paid before any creditors get paid. You should talk to a seasoned probate attorney about how to proceed whether or not you have already filed a petition for probate.

  2. Steven M Zelinger


    Contributor Level 20


    Lawyer agrees

    Answered . The other attorneys offer good advice and you should have a consultation. Some estate like this are better to just walk away from.

    This is not legal advice nor intended to create an attorney-client relationship. The information provided here is... more
  3. John B. Whalen Jr.


    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . Hello ...

    You indicated that you inherited a "mortgage" and "property tax" which leads me to believe that real estate also appears to be in the decedent's name alone (and please correct me if I am wrong).

    Without knowing more facts, I would suggest that you consult with an attorney who practices in this area in order that a clearer picture can be painted.

    Undertaking an estate is rather time consuming - it also carries with it the fiduciary duty to do things properly and by the book.

    Good luck.


    Although we invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters, and electronic mail, please remember that... more
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