Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Pennsylvania

When someone dies, does it wipe a debt clear

Asked on 1/06/17, 11:23 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Glenn Brown Real World Law, P.C.


The estate is responsible for it.

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Answered on 1/06/17, 11:45 am

Your question is vague although I know what you are asking. Once a debt always a debt. Debts are only wiped out by settlement, payment or bankruptcy. When someone dies, the dead person's estate is liable for payment if the dead person had assets. Any debts owed by the dead person must be paid before the heirs/beneficiaries get paid except for things like the family allowance which is of a higher priority.

If there are no probate assets, then in that case the creditor is notified that the deceased had no assets with which to pay. In that case, if the debt solely belonged to the deceased and there are no assets, then the debt can be deemed uncollectible.

Your post does not indicate who was responsible for the debt or what kind of debt it is. For example, if a husband and wife are jointly liable and one spouse dies, then the surviving spouse is still liable for the debt. Also, if another person agreed to be personally responsible, that person must still pay, like a co-signer perhaps. Also, who is the creditor? There are some debts for which a child or surviving spouse could be liable, like a medical debt or nursing home debt if the deceased had no assets.

I suggest that you at least pay for a consult with a probate attorney to find out what types of claims there are and whether there are probate assets so that you will know what all is involved.

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Answered on 1/06/17, 12:18 pm

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