Who Pays the Bills After Someone Dies?  

The following is a general overview of what the process of bill paying looks like after a loved one passes away. It is not a substitute for the advice of an experienced attorney. For specific questions regarding the estate and other financial questions, please seek the counsel of an attorney. 


Even after a life ends, bills are constant. Figuring out how to pay these bills is a common worry family and friends share after a loved one passes away. Many people wonder what they are responsible for and it can create doubt and confusion. Here is a general overview of the responsibilities of bill paying after someone passes.  

Role of the Executor:  In most cases, when bills go unpaid, the estate (personal assets of the passed loved one) is responsible for paying the debt. This means that family members are not always responsible for paying the bills out of pocket. Instead, an executor (or personal representative of the deceased) is responsible for using the money from the estate to pay off unpaid debt. An executor is a family member, accountant, or lawyer named in a will to handle the estate of the deceased. In the event that there is no will, the court is responsible for naming an executor, typically a spouse or older children of the loved one who passed.  

Other Responsibilities:  Initiating the process of probate is another responsibility of the executor. Probate is the legal division of assets owned by the deceased. The court is also needed to validate the will. Once that happens, debts can be paid. Additionally, the executor is responsible for paying taxes and depending on the state you live in, this can include taxes on the estate.  

Appointing an Executor:  It is important to note that the qualifications for being an executor vary by state. For example, in some states, executors who are not family members must live in the state of the deceased. The two main requirements for becoming an executor of an estate are that the person must be 18 years old and have no criminal record.  

Exceptions:  There are a few instances where the executor may not be responsible for paying off the debt of their passed loved one. For example, if the deceased had a co-signer for a loan (such as for a car), the co-signer is responsible for paying off the debt. Similarly, a spouse or other person who co-owned a home or living space with the deceased may be responsible for paying part of the debt. These exceptions vary by state, so please seek the advice of a lawyer for more information. 

At Carson’s Village, we understand that we may not have all the answers you are looking for. That’s why we’ve created a helpline to assist you in finding a person that does. And as mentioned above, do not hesitate to contact a trusted professional regarding financial matters related to your loved one.

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