The responsibility for debts after a parent dies

When parents in Pennsylvania have a lot of debt, they may worry about whether or not this will pass on to their children. The short answer is that it depends, but on what? It depends on whether or not the child or anyone else cosigned on the debt. If so, the living cosigner may now become responsible for the debt.

While economists say baby boomers will pass on trillions of dollars collectively when they die, NerdWallet estimates that half of the elderly own less than $10,000 in assets at the time of their death. This may not be enough to cover medical bills or a mortgage. In fact, since 1989, the number of people over 75 years old in America still paying a mortgage quadrupled.

Desperate to regain any losses, creditors may sometimes use underhanded tactics to target the children and even spouses left behind. However, it is important not to listen to these creditors, no matter how convincing they may sound. Instead, heirs should seek advice from professionals who are not biased toward making them repay that debt.

According to Credit Karma, when a person dies, their estate is used to cover outstanding debts during probate. If the assets are not enough to cover the balances, there are no living co-signers and it is not a joint account, the creditors may have no other available options to recover their loss.

This does not mean that beneficiaries will not inherit anything. Some assets may not pass through probate. Life insurance policies, investments, retirement accounts and savings accounts are some of the assets that may have named beneficiaries. In most instances, these pass directly to the individuals or organizations named.