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Question regarding what my liability potentially is


Xanathos
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I'm trying to get a gauge of what potential liability is for an heir. My mother recently died, and I've been stuck around here the last weeks kind of going through everything. For some reason I was named sole benefactor of the one thing she had (more on that in a sec). She had a fair amount of debt that I've found so far--nothing earth shattering, but enough to count. She didn't really own much of worth. The only thing of note she left behind was a new Infiniti QX56 with 6 miles on it. It still has the new car smell in it, so I'm assuming she bought it just before she died knowing what was going to happen. I say assume, because I can't find any documentation on it.

I'm having a hard time getting a straight answer as to just what I'm responsible for here. Do I automatically assume responsibility for all her debt? Or would that fall to my father (divorced from her), my younger brother, or one of my older half-siblings? What would the status of the car be? I have no idea how she managed to get one, but knowing my bloodlines, there was probably something shady to it. I've no idea if it's paid for or if there's still 50 some odd thousand dollars owed on it (once I find the title, I'll do a lien search). Nobody has come forward to try and tell me I owe them something, but then I don't really understand the process--so I'm not sure if they are supposed to.

Honestly, I wouldn't be completely opposed to "inheriting" the debt for obvious reasons having to do with my love affair with litigation, but I've got better things to do at this point. And I don't want to be stuck making payments on an SUV I don't need--though I must admit it's pretty damn nice. Haven't driven it yet cause I don't know what to do about it, but anyways. I've already been stuck with the bill for funeral and burial arrangements, travel, accomodations, etc. etc. etc.

Oh, all this is happening in Michigan. Danke.

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I am pretty sure the debts will not become yours or anyone elses. I am not familiar with wills, probate, estate planning, etc.. but from my very basic understanding of things, I presume that if there is an outstanding debt it gets subtracted from the estate.

Suppose your mom had 10k in assets, but had 100k in total liabilities. The creditors would file whatever they had against the estate and for the other 90k they would be out of luck, I think. That is why people sell credit life insurance and other garbage insurance policies for cars and consumer goods.

This stuff is really state specific, but just consider the basic concept if any John Doe dies. They can't come after you or me for their debts. You don't owe them anything.

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My deepest sympathies on the loss of your mom.

((((hugs)))))

Now from what I heard on a legal talk show yesterday as a matter of fact.

Unless your name is on any of the loan work, or anywhere on the debts you are not responsible for them at all.

They will be taken care of out of the estate and if there is no assets to the estate you can tell them to go jump in a lake.

Of course you know they are going to try and tell you that you are responsible.. so keep your tape recorder handy.

Knowing you I know that you will handle them in a MOST desirable way.. and maybe even be able to gain more legal experience. (wink)

Seriously though hon... it's not your debt.. it was your mothers and she has passed on.

They have nothing on you.

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As I remember from when my Grandmother passed away the only way they can go after you is if you take assets from the estate prior to completetion of the probate process. So if you transfered the QX56 into your name, they can possibly go after the value of that if her estate could not cover her debts.

But then, nothing says you can not drive it until probate is settled. :D

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I'm so sorry for your loss, Xan, my sympathies are with you.

Now, the question here is - is there an estate going to be probated ?? Did she leave a Will ? That would also determine who becomes exector.

Debts of the deceased are paid of the estate thru Probate. If the estate is insolvent, then there's nothing to be liquidated and disitributed to creditors. All you would have to do is to send a copy of her death certificate to each creditor with a letter stating the estate is insolvent. However, if that SUV is paid for, then the estate may not be insolvent so you do need to find out what's up with the vehicle. No matter what, you have NO liability at all for any of it.

Creditors CAN force probate if they think they're getting the shaft and think there are assets to be had.

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Xan - my sincerest condolences to you and your family.

There's an "ask the lawyer" that airs here, and a couple months ago were discussing MI probate (a similar situation to yours). I'll see if I can't dig up the info and PM it to you.

Don

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Xan,

Sincere condolences. The debts are levied against your mom's estate, and after any assets have been sold and the money used to pay off debts, that's the end of the story. The unpaid debts are merely written off.

Debtors will no doubt try to come after you and your family, but they don't have a chance.

Kristy

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Xanathos:

I'm new to posting here (have lurked for some time), but please accept my condolences!

May her memory be a blessing !

Broke Chick.

BTW: You have been told, correctly, that any debts are the responsiblity of, and paid from, the assets of the estate. You'll have to wait and see if you get her SUV or whether it must be liquidated during Probate.

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Thanks for the condolences/well wishes, but to be honest--they're rather unnecessary. The last time I had spoken to the woman was close to 20 years ago. It's cruel to say this post-mortem I know, but her greatest failing in life was probably as a mother. I wouldn't have even known she passed if not for her/her paralegal tracking me down over the last few months, and I'd have not bothered coming out to the services/sponsoring all the arrangements if not for the fact that I knew if I didn't, they'd never get done--and everyone at least deserves a decent sending off. I'm the only one in my gene pool who's not either A) broke and always looking for an angle B) a complete deadbeat or C) both (had to pay for 4 ppl to fly out, sign a promise of responsibility for one person's probation officer to leave the "district" he's bound to, the honor of flash-sobering up one of my half brothers an hour before the funeral, and had 2 genuine US Marshal's accompaning an uncle of mine on her side to the funeral to ensure he didn't try to escape during his bereavement furlough--to say nothing of how many times someone tried to hit me up for cash). In a lot of ways, going through her things now...I'm really just getting to know her for the first time. I know the guy who mans the self-checkout lanes at the grocery store better than I knew her.

Anyhow, as for the other questions; she left what amounted to slightly more than a cocktail napkin will leaving everything to me; inconcise but binding--which straddled me with all the burden/responsibility of taking care of pretty much everything (a final usage of me, I suppose). Turns out the SUV is completely paid for. How, I have no idea. Purchased it a month before she died--cash, according to the dealer; never drove it except that first ride home. The reasons behind the purchase and why she gave it to me are still a mystery to me. She had about $12,000 in debt all said and told--which apparently would be levied against the estate (the car). I figure I'll just pay the debts off and keep the thing rather than submit it for liquidation. All that's really left is finding takers for all this little stuff. Appreciate the help/guidance.

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Xan,

(you might already know this but..)

The fastest way to liquidate is to call one of the estate sale people in the phone book. They will come and do everything. Some will even pay you cash for the whole lot. If you have the sale, they will sort, set up and run the sale, and you get a percent of the net. You never have to lift a finger.

Its a way to get some cash to put towards the debt.

As for your mom, I am in the same boat. I haven't talked to mine in 10 years, but she finally got her act together and we started talking online. My father on the other hand, I have had very little contact with since 1985, and would like to keep it that way.

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I just thought of this...

Is it possible she won the money? Have you thought of contacting the IRS to see if she has any 1099's for 2004? You might not have to worry about that, but it does seem odd that she would have the money to pay cash. The IRS would have been notified if she paid cash for the car too.

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I have to say it anyway: Sorry to hear about your Mom's passing.

Now to the other stuff: Even before I finished reading the thread, I knew the car was paid for. Believe me, there's more where that came from. Now, you have to go find it. Did she own a business? Have a safe deposit box? Insurance policy? Stocks that were liquidated? Aliases?

The type of person you described is never without means. EVER. I know plenty of "deadbeats" that only operate with cash. Check the home she lived in. Especially the furniture. You're looking for cash and I know of someone who had 200K stuffed in the sofa. He went to jail for 2 years and didn't tell the wife about the cash. She changed the furniture while he was away. Happens more than you know.

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