California residents work hard on estate plans. Your loved ones likely tried to take care of as much as possible before passing. This is so you would not have to deal with as much complex litigation. Unfortunately, life is not always predictable. Situations come up in which your loved one may fall into debt and pass away before they can pay it off.

In this sort of situation, where does that leave you? How do you have to handle the debts that a loved one or relative left behind?

Does the debt move on to family members?

The Federal Trade Commission discusses lingering debts of deceased loved ones or relatives. You must understand who holds the responsibility for paying these debts off. The first thing to know is that a deceased individual’s estate often covers their debts. Creditors can claim and liquidate assets to cover any debts remaining. But what if the estate does not cover these debts? In that case, they often go unpaid.

Handling debt collectors

Fortunately for many, there is no legal obligation to pay back debts of any relative or loved one who is not a spouse. Even if the deceased person is your spouse, probate law can limit your obligations. You hold more obligations if you are the deceased person’s representative. But even then, you are not obligated to speak with debt collectors. You may want to do so to resolve matters, though.

Know how to deal with debt collectors in general, too. Keep an eye out for scammers who scan obituaries hoping to get things from you. Understand the information debt collectors are and are not allowed to share. Above all, understand when you can turn debt collectors away and how to do so.