• Cyburbia is a friendly big tent, where we share our experiences and thoughts about urban planning practice, the built environment, planning adjacent topics, and anything else that comes to mind. No ads, no spam, and it's free. It's easy to join!

Seeking Advice - Possible Scary Personal Matter


Ready to Learn
Although I am not currently facing this situation, it is possible that it could occur...

If my only living parent has a will and suddenly dies tomorrow, I know I will inherent a portion of the assets. They will be shared among myslef and my siblings. But if my parent has horrendous credit card debt and a home mortgage, hypothetically totalling $100,000, will I and my siblings inheret that debt as well? If it is possible that I might have to pay off a portion of that debt at a future date, I want to take measures to protect myself today. I am considering seeking a lawyer, but I am not sure what kind of specialty I need. I have no idea how to go about this - the only thing that I keep thinking about is that I want to have my name removed from the will, but I am not sure that is the best way to do things.

Any thoughts or suggestions will be appreciated. I am at my wits end.



My unresearched opinion, which may vary by state and does not constitute sound legal advice, is that whatever remains in the estate of the testator may be used to pay off outstanding obligations. This means that if the remaining debts exceeds the value of what is in the estate, there may not be anything much left over for the beneficiaries. However, I do not believe that a beneficiary of the will (you) would aquire any additional obligations for the remaining debts. You will get better advice from an estate planning attorney or possibly a tax attorney.

Hope this helps.

el Guapo

I'm no Lawyer either but...

Yaff is right. Someone cannot saddle you with a debt that you had no responsibility in creating, or in anyway signed for - Law 101. Now, you can't get Grandma's painting of Washington Crossing the Deleware without settling the estate. So it just depends if it has a net postitive value or not. Plenty of people have just walked away from inheritances that were mixed bags. Good Luck. I hope it turns out well for you. But spend $100 on an hour with a good lawyer. Never hire a poor or cheap Lawyer. Have your questions written down in advance.


The above is correct. You cannot inherit the debt. However, beware that you dont' fail to inherit anything. All of the assets of the estate will be used to retire the outstanding debt.

The house shouldn't be an issue. It can be sold and the equity used to help retire the undecured debts. Other collateralized loans (such as car loans, etc.) will be handled in a like manner, although it is less certain that the sale will return enough cash to retire all of the debt.

After these, the unsecured debt and anything still owed on the loans will be on somewhat equal footing. All of the remaining assets from the estate (bank accounts, stocks, personal and household items, etc.) will be liquidated to pay off this debt. Here's where you need to be thinking ahead. If there are any family heirlooms, you need to protect them so that they are not included in the estate.

Disclaimer: The above suggestions are the product of a single course in business law taken well over a decade ago. Talk to a weasel, er, lawyer.