Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Pennsylvania

my brother-in-law died,no will.son is executor of estate. there is credit card debt. the card is only in deceased's name. is his son responsible to pay this? the estate really has nothing of value other than house w/ a mortgage, which is going to be sold on what is still owed to bank.

Asked on 7/20/13, 11:54 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Miriam Jacobson Law Offices of Miriam N. Jacobson
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Unless the son was using the credit card for his own use, the son is not responsible for debts of the estate. He must property administer the estate, to make sure that all debts are paid to the extent that there are assets, or he will be personally liable. He should get a written recordable or recorded release of the mortgage from the bank, and similar releases from any other creditor and heir.

A consultation with a lawyer, just to make sure that he is taking all the required steps, can save the son possible liability,


* If the answers to your question confirm that you have a valid issue or worthwhile claim, your next step should almost always be to establish a dialog with a lawyer who can provide specific advice to you. Contact a lawyer in your county or township.

* Another reason for contacting a lawyer is that it is often impossible to give a good answer in the Internet Q&A format without having more information. The unique circumstances of your situation and things that you may not have thought to mention in your question may completely change the answer. If you want to be sure that you have a complete answer to your question and an understanding of what that answer means, establish a connection with a lawyer who practices in the area of your concern.

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Answered on 7/20/13, 12:05 pm
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The son is not directly personally responsible for his father's credit card debt if he did not sign anything making him a co-borrower or co-applicant. The son may be indirectly responsible, however.

The credit card debt would be a claim against the estate. If there is enough money in the estate then it will be paid before the heirs get anything. If there is not enough money in the estate then any claims will be paid in order of priority. Credit card debts are assigned the lowest priority after administrative expenses (commission for the executor, costs of probate, family allowance or attorney fees), funeral/burial expenses, taxes and medical debts. If the money is exhausted by a higher priority claim then the credit card gets nothing.

The creditor needs to be given personal notice. They can file a claim or not. If no claim is filed, then the credit card company is barred from seeking relief. If a claim is filed and there is no money then the executor has to deny the claim based on the fact that there are no assets because the estate is insolvent (has more debts than assets).

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Answered on 7/20/13, 12:11 pm

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