Children of deceased parents in Oklahoma are not directly responsible for the debts of their parents. In the midst of dealing with the loss of a parent, a question that often arises is, “Does a child have to pay their deceased parent’s debts?”. This issue can be confusing. Its filled with legal nuance and fraught with emotions. While the death of a parent is difficult understanding the law can be made easier.
Understanding The Basics Of Debts After Death
Typically, when someone passes away, their debts become the responsibility of their estate, not their children. In Oklahoma, the executor or administrator of the estate is responsible for settling these debts using the assets within the estate. Children of deceased parents are not directly liable for their parents debt. Only in the case where their is a probate estate and they are the beneficiaries of the estate will the debt impact them. In the case where the parents leave nothing in their estate there is nothing for the creditors to get.
Priority Of Payment In An Estate
Only certain estates are available to creditors seeking payments for the dets of the deceased parent. If your parent passes away and hasn’t used probate avoidance tools in their estate planning certain property is part of the probate estate. Property that’s subject to probate is subject to creditor claims. According to the Oklahoma Statutes, debts must be paid off in a certain order during the probate process. Funeral expenses, administration costs, and tax obligations are given priority. After these are settled, any remaining debts like credit card bills, medical bills, or personal loans, are addressed. It is only after all these debts are paid, the remaining estate will be distributed to the beneficiaries.
When Are Children Of Deceased Parents Liable For Debt?
There are few exceptions where children may be held responsible for their parents’ debts in Oklahoma:
Co-Signers Or Joint Account Holders
If a child co-signed a loan or was a joint account holder with the parent, the child may be responsible for the debt. This is not because of the parent’s death, but because the child agreed to be legally responsible when the account was created. Perhaps the children of deceased parents co-signed for their parents credit card or car loan. In this case the creditor expects the payments to be made by the co-signers per the loan contract.
Jointly Owned Property
In the case where a child and their parents’ own a property together children of deceased parents may be liable for the debt. Here we are talking about property jointly owned where the property is used as collateral for the loan. Practically stated this kind of debt is a lot like a co-signed debt. Here who incurred the debt and for what purpose is not important. What’s important is that the property was used as collateral for the debt. Who pays it off is of no concern to the creditor. Rather, the lien on the jointly held property survives the parents death and must be paid or the property must be sold.
Protecting Yourself From Unscrupulous Debt Collectors
Unfortunately, some debt collectors prey on people’s lack of understanding of the law. They may contact the deceased person’s children, insisting that they are legally obligated to pay the parent’s debt. Remember that in Oklahoma, unless you co-signed the debt or were a joint account holder, you’re usually not responsible for your parent’s debts. This includes debt they accrued for their health care or food and shelter.
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Seek Legal Guidance For Your Situation
Every situation is unique and the rules can be complex. For this reason, it’s highly recommended to consult with estate planning attorneys in Oklahoma. They can provide advice tailored to your circumstances. Tailored advice helps you make informed decisions and protect your rights as an heir. Get a free consultation from our Tulsa probate and estate planning lawyers. Call the Kania Law Office at (918) 743-2233 or contact us online.