Do I Have to Pay the Debts of My Parents?

Do I Have to Pay My Parents’ Debts?

Skilled McKinney Probate Attorneys

At Willingham Law Firm, PC., we are commonly contacted by clients who wonder if they will be responsible for paying their parent’s debts. The answer is generally no, as we do not pass debts on to children of the deceased in the United States. However, there are some situations in which you may be liable for the debts of your parent, often through contract law or failure to follow proper laws.

Due to the complexity and high stakes of probate, it’s always a good idea to retain an experienced McKinney probate attorney who can guide you through the process. At Willingham Law Firm, PC., our skilled team has an in-depth understanding of probate and estate planning, giving us the ability to provide knowledgeable counsel from a point of experience.

You shouldn’t be liable for your parents’ debts. Call our firm today for your a case evaluation.

Improper Action as Executor

One situation where you can become liable for the debts of your parent is to fail to notify creditors when acting as your parent’s executor. Executors rarely have experience with probate, which can put them in a tough position. Oftentimes, they don’t understand that they are required to pay creditors first, before they pay beneficiaries. If an executor fails to pay the debts of his or her parent and cannot recover the property from the other beneficiaries, then he may have to repay the creditors out of his own pocket. This situation is very unfortunate because it is easily avoidable by simply notifying creditors and following proper probate law procedures.

Common Debts

Another way you can become liable for the debts of your parent is to have a common debt. This situation happened to a client of our firm, who had decided to co-sign on a mortgage with her father. When her father passed, the mortgage became her full responsibility. The loan officer for the bank had told her that the only reason she was needed on the mortgage was for credit purposes, but this was not true. As the only living person on the mortgage, she was forced to pay off the debt.

Guaranteed Debts

The most common way to become liable for the debt of your parent is to sign a guarantee. Hospitals and nursing homes will sometimes require you to guarantee a payment in order for them to treat your parent. Many times these guarantees are not lawful, but the hospital or nursing home will use them as leverage to try to get paid. If you are planning on putting your parent into a nursing facility or hospital, then consult with an attorney before signing any type of guarantee.

For guidance through the probate process, call Willingham Law Firm, PC. today at (214) 499-9647.


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  • “They were so unbelievably helpful and kind after my father passed.”

    - Dani P.
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    - Tana Gleim

Meet Our experienced Legal Team

Dedicated to Accomplishing Your Goals 
  • Taylor Willingham
  • Carla Alston
  • Andrea Lewandowski
  • Taylor Willingham Taylor Willingham


    McKinney Estate Planning Attorney Taylor Willingham brings a wealth of expertise and a deep commitment to legacy planning to ...
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  • Carla Alston Carla Alston


    Compassionate Probate Lawyer in McKinney Carla Alston is an attorney who strongly cares for her clients and their family. ...
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  • Andrea Lewandowski Andrea Lewandowski


    McKinney Estate Planning Attorney Andrea Lewandowski is an estate planning attorney located in McKinney, Texas. She is deeply ...
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