Are Beneficiaries Responsible for Debts left by the Deceased?

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“In Florida, are adult children named as beneficiaries in a will responsible for the debt left by a parent? My father died with $4000 in his checking account and $44000 debt to a nursing home. We are besieged with paperwork from the state and the nursing home needing more and more information. We are not interested in claiming any of his estate and the nursing home is welcome to any of his assets. We paid for his funeral expenses out of pocket.He did not own any property at the time of his death. His nursing home bill was being paid by his health insurance and Medicaid.”

[NOTE: Articles and answers on DearEsq., while written and published by lawyers, do not constitute legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship is formed by your reading of this information. You should always consult with an attorney for any legal situations.]

Condolences on your loss. My own grandmother passed away last year in Florida in similar financial circumstances.

Generally speaking, heirs are not responsible for the debts of the decedent; those responsibilities lay with, and end with, the estate. Once any monies in the estate are gone, the creditors have to seek payments from insurance companies and/or Medicare.

Even the simplest estate matters, especially in Florida, are best handled by a probate attorney. You should get one ASAP, and his fee should be more than covered by the cash on hand. This doesn’t sound like a complex case, thus an attorney should be able to handle this for you easily and cheaply. He will also explain how to make sure that his fee is paid out of the remaining cash in the estate, so that you aren’t out of pocket. Get a probate attorney; you’ll be happy you did.

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Author: Ray Everett-Church, Esq.

Ray Everett-Church is a privacy and security consultant with PrivacyClue LLC and is co-author of "Internet Privacy for Dummies"

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