Who is responsible when dead people owe money? The New York Times says that the law varies but, “generally survivors are not required to pay a dead relative’s bills from their own assets.” That doesn’t mean they’re going to tell you that when they come calling about an unpaid bill.
From the NYT:
Scott Weltman of Weltman, Weinberg & Reis, a Cleveland law firm that performs deceased collections, says that if family members ask, “we definitely tell them” they have no legal obligation to pay. “But is it disclosed upfront – ‘Mr. Smith, you definitely don’t owe the money’? It’s not that blunt.”
The Times says the practice is expanding, with debt collectors who are specifically trained to be empathetic to the families of the deceased. So we suppose the moral of the story is this: If someone, even a nice person, comes calling around asking you to pay a deceased relative’s debts — ask them if you really owe the money. And then double check their answer.