Advice on how deal with debit collecters

Hi, everyone I am new to this. I hope I'm doing this right. My mother passed away about  nine days ago. She had Alzheimer's and later developed lung cancer and congested heart failure. A few years ago, I stopped working so I could stay at my mother's home and take care of her. I promise her I would. She has credit card debts. Some had already gone to the collection agency. With the help of God, I could arrange and pay them something out of her check. Now that she has passed away I'm unable to pay. I'm looking for a job, but it will be awhile before I can even build up saving for myself since I have not worked in years. This may be a dumb question, but should I worry that they will come after me? The only thing she owns was her home, which isn't worth much, but I have to live here, at least for now. The debts are in her name only.  The one bright spot is I might have a job line up. It doesn't pay much, but still it's a job. Should I worry? 

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    • Tobias
    • Toviathan
    • 13 days ago
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    Is someone acting as executor of her estate? That's who would usually deal with the remaining debts out of whatever assets were left behind. You really should consider speaking with a local probate attorney to get the best idea of what can and can't happen. They will almost always offer a free consultation to go over any services they may be able to offer. And worst case you can at least get a feel for if there are areas of concern.

    Never pay someone else's debts with your own money. That could potentially put you on the hook for them. Anything for her debts needs to be settled through her estate to protect your own assets. There are a lot of variables at play here.

    Is the house still in her name?

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      • Pink Pony
      • Pink_Pony.10
      • 13 days ago
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      Tobias No, she didn't have executive, and there is no will. The house is in bad shape, but it's still my home. 

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  • First, I am very sorry for your loss. 

    Completely agree that you should get some legal advice in this situation. It will really depend on a lot of factors on what can and cannot be done. But, one thing is to definitely not pay for any of the debt from your own money. Ensure that the executor/executrice of the estate is aware and they should notify all creditors of your mom's death. There are processes for them to follow in those situations. If there is no will or executor/executrice, then you will likely go through a state/provincial probate process. You can get a ton of information from the government website.

    You can also look up information on your local government websites. They will have a ton of information on what to do when someone passes. You may also want to look up seniors organizations who may have resources as well. 

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      • Pink Pony
      • Pink_Pony.10
      • 13 days ago
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       I will look into it. Isn't there something about debt forgiveness when someone died? I remember reading something about it. I have done some researcher already, but I'm still in the dark about some things. Her debt was credit card debt was unsecured. I'm not sure if that makes a difference or not.  I'm so tired of worrying about this.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 days ago
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      Pink Pony the debt goes away if the person had no assets. But your mom's home is an asset.  So her estate (assets plus cash) stands against any debts.  You may be able to call and ask.  If the amount is small they may write it off.  At a minimum they need to be informed that she has passed away. And if they continue calling, then tell them to "take off eh" because you are not the executor and shouldn't be bothered.  As someone said you should consult a lawyer (or good paralegal) as you will have to get the house titled in your name. Every state is different (and every country too).  

      Don't let the collectors get to you. I also believe the states has some act to prevent harrassment. I would send them each a registered letter with a copy of the death certificate and advise that no executor has been appointed so no action can be taken.  That should shut them up until someone (probably you) gets appointed. At that time you can deal with them. 

      So sorry for your loss.  And reminder to everyone to write a will!!!

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    • PhysicsGal
    • Nerdy female homo sapien
    • physicsgal
    • 13 days ago
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    Dave Ramsey has great tips for dealing with debt collectors, BTW.   Always get them to give you their statement that the debt will be paid in full when you pay a final settlement in writing before you pay them, and never give them direct access to your checking account, is the main stuff I remember

    I believe when your mom passed (I'm so sorry for your loss and for having to deal with this stuff while grieving your mother) her house and all her debt are now part of her estate.  The assets in the estate will be used to pay the debts, so you could risk ownership of the house if you can't pay the bills.  Did your mom have a will?    I think you need the executor to help with this, or some other legal expert for this situation.

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  • Thank you! I forgot all about Dave Ramsey!

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  • I just wanted to say that I started to listen to Dave Ramsey about the matter. It has given me a little peace about the matter. Thank you all for the problem!

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  • Pink Pony  If there is no will, and the house was in her name, then it may be at risk with the debt collectors calling. Please get some legal counsel to protect the house for yourself. It might not be worth much, but it's a roof over your head. Even if it isn't worth much, if the debt needs to be collected, and the correct process isn't followed, then it's possible the house could be taken in order to satisfy the debt.

    I'm so sorry to hear about your mother, I hope that you can work through this and find some peace. The good news is that if you work with YNAB it will help you keep a clear picture of what's going on. Don't let the poor picture of what it is now deter you from sticking with it. The only way you can move forward is if you know where you are starting from. That's what YNAB is for. It's taken me several years to get our financial picture looking better, and it wasn't fun in the beginning when there was lots of red, and lots of negative numbers, but it is finally changing. The debt didn't happen over night, and it won't go away over night. But it will go away, if you are patient, and stay focused.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 days ago
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      farfromtheusual good advice about using YNAB.  I would set up a separate budget for mom's accounts just to be able to track everything in one place.  

      Another tip (may be Canadian only but not sure) the beneficiary of your life insurance and your investment and/or retirement accounts should be the individual rather than the estate.  By doing this, that transfers outside of the estate (and probate) making things faster and in Ontario cheaper (for example $100K life insurance left to the estate where the estate is left 100% to me would cause a $1000 probate fee whereas if I was directly the beneficiary, there would be no fees).

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  • Get certified copies of the death certificate, and send them to each of the credit cards letting them know there are no assets.  They should erase the debt.

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      • MXMOM
      • MXMOM
      • 8 days ago
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      Tan Trombone problem is that there are assets - a house. 

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