Minnesota Legal Blog

Am I on the hook for my deceased parent’s debt?

On Behalf of | Jan 26, 2021 | Estate Planning |

Coping with the death of your parent is already emotional enough without the added stress of settling the estate or dealing with creditors. You might have agents calling you and your siblings to collect on your parent’s debt and you may wonder if you are liable for what your parent owed.

What happens to your parent’s debt after his or her death depends on several factors such as where the descendant lived and whether the assets are from a joint account.


You are not on the hook for paying your parent’s outstanding taxes. Instead, the estate is responsible for everything including income taxes and property taxes.

In the case of federal estate taxes, if the distribution of property occurs before the payment of taxes, the Internal Revenue Service may put a lien on the property.

Mortgage debt

Mortgage law is a complex issue, best assessed by legal counsel. However, typically, inheriting a home with a mortgage still attached means that you will be responsible for all future mortgage payments.

If the mortgage is worth more than the property you inherited and you want to sell, you can speak with the bank and choose a short sale or foreclosure.

Credit card debt

Your parent’s credit card debt is not your obligation, unless you are a cosigner on the account. Debt collectors might make it seem as if the repayment is your responsibility, however it is not, and they cannot call you unless you are the executor of the estate.

Medical bills

If your parent died with outstanding medical bills, the estate is responsible for the debts, not you. If he or she was on Medicaid, the state can recover payments by placing a lien on your parent’s house or by sometimes negotiating with the estate to pay less than the full amount.

Overall, you should not fret about your deceased parent’s debts as you likely will not be responsible for unpaid bills.