For many people, losing a parent proves monumentally difficult. If you are among those who have lost your mother or father in recent years, you may understand all too well just how much of a toll it takes on you. You may also have come to realize that a parent’s death often brings financial hardships. For example, if your parent passed away and left significant debts behind, you may be trying to figure out what to do while also navigating intense emotions. 

According to U.S. News & World Report, it is quite common for debt collectors to contact surviving children regarding a deceased parent’s debt. When they do so, they may tell you that you have some type of ethical duty to take care of your parent’s debt, but is this actually true? 

In many instances, you will not have to cover the debt your parent left behind. There are several important exceptions to this, however. Recognizing what these exceptions are should help you determine who is responsible for the debt. 

You are going to have to ask yourself two things.

  1. Did you and your deceased parent apply for a loan or credit card together?
  2. Is your name on your parent’s credit card account that has a past-due balance?


Unless you answered “yes” to either question, you are probably not going to have to cover the debts your parent left behind, regardless of what a debt collector may tell you. While this is good news, the best way to be sure you’re not responsible for your parent’s debt is by reaching out to an experienced professional.

This information about your debt obligations following a parent’s death is educational in nature and not a replacement for legal advice.