Your father passed away, naming you as the sole heir to his estate.
Unfortunately, that estate includes $30,000 in credit-card bills and a house with negative equity. So where does that leave you?
“We’re seeing a lot of that in Florida, where you’ve got condos being willed to children that are worth less than the mortgage note,” says Austin Frye, a certified financial planner and estate attorney with Frye Financial Center in Aventura, Fla.
The matter of what becomes of your debt when you die — home mortgages, car loans, medical bills, student loans — is more complex than it sounds.
Generally speaking, says Frye, personal debt dies with the borrower, thus can’t be passed along to children or spouses.
As with all things financial planning, though, exceptions abound.
Much depends on whose name is attached to the debt, the state in which you reside and the type of debt in question, says David Mendels, a certified financial planner with Creative Financial Concepts in New York.
“A lot depends on how the assets are titled, and the rules can vary by state,” he says. “Then there is the question of whether there were any guarantors on the debt. They could very well get stuck with the debt.”
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