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Debt Collections When the Debtor is Deceased

When a beloved family member dies, the last thing that the surviving relatives expect to deal with is debt collection calls. Relatives of debtors have certain legal protections against abusive or deceptive practices employed by debt collectors, including collection agencies, debt collection lawyers, and third-party companies who buy the debt from the original creditors. If you are dealing with debt collectors trying to collect the debt of a deceased loved one, you should contact an Ohio debt lawyer with extensive experience in consumer protection laws who can help assert your rights.

What happens to debt upon death?

A person’s death does not typically cancel his or her financial obligations. That person’s estate will continue to owe the debt. As a family member, you may be responsible for paying the debt if:

  • You co-signed the relative’s debt.
  • You are the person’s spouse and you live in a state that recognizes community property laws. Property between married individuals in Ohio is equitably distributed by courts according to a list of factors, which, includes the assets and liabilities of the parties.
  • Another state law requires you to pay the deceased person’s debt.

The executor of the deceased person’s will (or the administrator appointed by the state if there is no will) has the authority to dispose of the estate’s assets, including paying off debts. Creditors can collect the debt from the estate in Ohio by filing a claim in probate court within six months after the date of death. If the estate does not have enough assets to pay off the debt, and another party is not legally responsible, then it will go unpaid.

Permitted Debt Collector Contacts

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA) is a federal law that governs what debt collectors can do to try to collect a debt. When a debtor passes away, the FDCPA allows debt collectors to contact and discuss unpaid debts with the debtor’s spouse, executor, administrator, or any other individual with the legal authority to pay debts with the estate’s assets. However, the FDCPA prohibits collectors from discussing those debts with anyone else unless solely for the purpose of getting the name, address, and other contact information of the spouse, executor, administrator, or other authorized individuals. Additionally, relatives have the right to ask the collector to stop making contact by sending a cease and desist letter, which will only stop contact but does not result in the cancellation of the debt obligation.

Experienced Ohio Debt Attorneys

If a debt collector has contacted you to try to collect the debt of a deceased loved one, you may need the help of an experienced consumer protection advocate to protect your rights and help determine the validity of the collection. Relatives of deceased debtors have rights under the FDCPA against unfair, deceptive, or abusive debt collection practices.

The experienced Ohio debt collections lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates can help you deal with debt collectors and put a stop to any unfair collection practices, if necessary. Call us at (888) 726-3181 or email us at advice@ohiodebthelp.com for a free, initial consultation with one of our experienced Ohio debt lawyers.