Legal Question in Credit and Debt Law in Wisconsin

Are debts passed on to family members?

I was wondering if you could possibly answer this question for me. While discussing the topic of debts in my philosophy we got into a heated debate about debts. My question to you is: If a loved one dies are their debts passed on to other family members or are the forgiven? Thank you very much for your time.

Asked on 2/21/02, 8:27 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Thomas Schober Schober Schober & Mitchell, S.C.

Re: Are debts passed on to family members?

As with most legal questions, there are a number of

answers to your legal question. There are a number

of types of debts. Debts that are secured by property,

such as a mortgage on a home, pass along with the property.

You would probably assume that if a relative gave you

his home when he died, that if there was a mortgage

on it, or if there were unpaid taxes, you would get

those obligations along with the home.

Other general obligations of decedents have certain

priorities as to payment after death and are paid

out of the decedent's estate. Toward the top of that

list are expenses of funeral and burial and expenses

to probate the decedent's estate. Which expenses

get paid often depend upon which creditors file claims

in the estate of the decedent. One reason to get

a probate going is to start the time limit running

during which claims may be filed.

Finally, there are some obligations for life's necessities,

such as food, shelter, clothing, etc., that a surviving spouse

may be responsible for even after their spouse dies.

Such expenses will usually include the charges incurred

for staying in a county home, or advances received

for certain types of government assistance.

As you can see, the answer to your question will

depend upon the type of debt a person dies with.

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Answered on 2/22/02, 10:04 am

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