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Will my mother's debt transfer to me if she were to pass away?

Seattle, WA |

My mother does not work, has no income, owns a mobile home on leased land, but has no other assets. She was left with substantial credit card and student loan debt after her divorce many years ago, and has no way of paying it. I pay for her lot rent and utility bills, but can't afford to pay her debt. Her health is desinigrating, she is type 2 diabetic and her kideys are failing. I am not sure what we need to do, or if there is anything we can do to make it so we wouldn't lose the house & her belongings to her creditors. Any advice would be helpful.

Attorney Answers 4


  1. Debts will not transfer to you AS LONG as you don't mismanage her estate if you are acting as executor. Make sure you do not take anything for yourself until all debts are settled and taxes are paid. A little money for an attorney and CPA to handle this for you will save you time, and will save you from being held personally liable for your mothers debts.

    Matthew Johnson phone# 206.747.0313 is licensed in the State of Washington and performs bankruptcy, short sale negotiations, and estate planning in Whatcom, Skagit, Snohomish, King and Pierce counties. The response does not constitute specific legal advice, which would require a full inquiry by the attorney into the complete background of the facts and circumstances surrounding this matter; rather, it is intended to be general legal information based on the limited information provided by the inquirer; it This response also does not constitute the establishment of an attorney-client relationship, which can only be established after a conflict of interest evaluation is completed, your case is accepted, and a fee agreement is signed. Johnson Legal Group, PLLC


  2. I am sorry for your situation.

    You are not responsible for your mother's debt, absent agreement on your part to accept responsibility. Having said that, if your mother's creditors are able to get a judgment against her, it may effect your rights to anything you might otherwise inherit from her.

    Your mother needs to see an estate planning attorney to make sure that her estate planning is in order. The attorney can help her structure things in the best way possible to protect your interests.

    James Frederick

    *** LEGAL DISCLAIMER I am licensed to practice law in the State of Michigan and have offices in Wayne and Ingham Counties. My practice is focused in the areas of estate planning and probate administration. I am ethically required to state that the above answer does not create an attorney/client relationship. These responses should be considered general legal education and are intended to provide general information about the question asked. Frequently, the question does not include important facts that, if known, could significantly change the answer. Information provided on this site should not be used as a substitute for competent legal advice from a licensed attorney that practices in your state. The law changes frequently and varies from state to state. If I refer to your state's laws, you should not rely on what I say; I just did a quick Internet search and found something that looked relevant that I hoped you would find helpful. You should verify and confirm any information provided with an attorney licensed in your state.


  3. Your county Bar association may be able to help you get to a clinic, or even an attorney in private practice that can help, even if she has no money for attorney's fees. Don;t agree to pay anything personally until you get to an attorney, at least as far as the credit card bills are concerned.
    Sometimes an attorney for an estate can negotiate down unsecured debt (ie credoit card) to save something for the family. You are to be commended for helping out in this difficult situation.
    Best wishes for her and you.
    Bob Brenna Jr.
    Brenna Brenna and Boyce pllc
    Rochester, New York 14614

    Bob, Robert L. Brenna, Jr. No relationship is intended, agreed upon or accepted by answering this general question Brenna Brenna and Boyce PLLC Rochester, New York brenna@brennalaw.com


  4. I agree with the first response. You will not inherit her debt, although that debt may act to reduce your inheritance (if any). Unless, of course, the debt is currently yours.

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