Q: My parents have a lot of credit card debt and they owe money for various other bills. Am I responsible for paying these when they die?
A: Relax. There’s a greater chance you’ll inherit your mom’s shoe obsession or your dad’s fixation with curling than their debt. You have no obligation to pay your folks’ bills post-mortem, although if you’ve co-signed any loans or own property with them, you could be on the hook if there’s not enough money in the estate to cover their debt, says Sandra Foster, financial planner and author of You Can’t Take it With You. Also keep in mind that if your parents name you the executor of their estate, you’ll have an obligation to make sure all debt is paid off before any proceeds are paid to beneficiaries. “If your parents aren’t comfortable saying how much debt they have, encourage them to leave their records in order,” says Foster.
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