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When debt is left behind in Florida

Some Florida residents may be surprised to learn that certain debts that are left behind after someone dies may end up being their responsibility to pay. While some debts will be paid out of the estate after the debtor's death, the decedent's family members may be held liable to pay others about which they not have even known.

Debt planning is thus an important part of estate planning. People should be honest about their financial obligations with their loved ones and heirs. They should keep updated files with important account documents and taxes so surviving family members can find them easily.

Jointly-held credit cards and other types of credit accounts may become the responsibility of the joint account holder after the death of the other one. If a decedent had used Medicaid to pay for nursing home care, the family may also be left to pay certain expenses related to that care. In order to protect against identity theft after a loved one dies, it is important for family members to immediately notify the three major credit bureaus and the decedent's creditors so thieves do not run up debt in his or her name.

Debt planning is sometimes overlooked by people who are planning how their assets will be distributed after they die. They thus may want to discuss their financial obligations with their estate planning attorney in order to be better prepared. An attorney can provide advice about what is likely to occur with certain debts and how they should be handled. People may also want to have a frank discussion with their loved ones about their debts so that there are no surprises during the probate process.

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