How Can You Stop A Debt Collector From Taking Your Inheritance?

Law Blog

You may think that all estate litigation involves families, but it can also be needed to fend off creditors. When someone passes away, their heirs don't inherit their debts, but the creditor does get the first right to make a claim from the estate to cover the debt before anyone gets their inheritance. Here's what you need to do to protect your rights.

Never Pay a Debt on Your Own

Even if you're inheriting everything and think it will come out of your money anyway, never pay a debt on your own. This does two things. First, paying the debt ends any possibility of disputing it. Second, paying part of a debt may be seen as you accepting responsibility for the entire debt. The danger of this is that if the debt is larger than the entire estate is that you could then be forced to pay it out of your personal assets.

Demand Proof of Any Debt

There are several possibilities with regard to any debt. First, it may be a fully legitimate debt. Second, it may be a legitimate debt but not enforceable for technical legal reasons. Third, there could be a dispute over the amount of the debt even if it's agreed that there is some debt. Finally, it could be a scam. Fraudsters often target estates knowing that families are grieving and may not be thinking clearly.

The creditor should have paperwork showing when the debt was incurred, what it was for, and how much the debt is. Have your attorney review this paperwork as errors may mean the debt isn't collectible. If you disagree with any of the stated facts, you have the right to dispute them.

Come Up With a Plan for Paying Any Debts

Once you agree with or have the court decide what debts are valid, come up with a plan for paying them. In some cases, sentimental items such as a family home or antiques may need to be sold to settle the debt. You can avoid this by reaching an agreement for family members to buy these items from the estate for cash that gets paid to the creditor. If you and the creditor can't agree to fair value, you may need to work with your estate litigation lawyer to have a valuation expert testify in court.

To learn more about how to stop a debt collector from taking your inheritance, contact a local estate litigation law firm today.


22 April 2020

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