Dad died leaving unpaid hospital and credit card debt.

by Beverly
(Munford, TN )

My mom has a house paid for and is on a fixed income in Tennessee.

Can debtors put a lien on her house to pay for my father debts. Which is hospital bills and credit card debt.

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Aug 28, 2012
Dad died leaving unpaid hospital and credit card debt.

It depends on a number of factors. First, did your father leave a will behind? If he did then the executor of the will must initiate the probate process, during which all of his assets will be inventoried and his creditors will have an opportunity to be paid out of those assets.

If he died without a will, then you or someone else must contact the probate court in the area where your father lived so that the court can appoint someone as administrator of his estate. (His estate is simply all of the assets your father owned at the time of his death) The administrator would do do exactly what an executor would have done.

If there is not enough cash to pay all of your father's outstanding debts, then his assets must be sold to pay them and if your father owns the house your mother is living in, then the home would be at risk.

If there is not enough money to pay everything then the creditors that do not get paid are out of luck. They cannot look to your mother or anyone else to pay them, with a few exceptions. Your mother would be obligated to pay any unpaid debts that were joint debts between her and your father as well as any debts she may have co-signed for. Also, if she signed paperwork at the hospital agreeing to be responsible for your father's medical bills, then she is obligated to pay them as well.

If your mother is responsible for any of your father's unpaid debts and she does not pay them, then the creditors could sue her for the money and if they win their lawsuits, they could put liens on her home.

If you have any additional questions, I recommend that you consult with a probate law attorney in your area.

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