Collecting Debts From the Deceased

The Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (“FDPCA”) is the federal
statute Piggy _bankthat governs how collection agencies can
operate.  The law protects consumers from abusive collection practices
by debt collectors.  A fast growing area of collection is
collecting debts from deceased individuals….because when you
die…your debt does not necessarily die with you. 

Collecting debts from the deceased often leads to contacting the
person’s family and friends for repayment, so it is important to
understand the law and your rights to protect yourself and your
loved ones estate.  It is important to understand when you
are being contacted by a collector
regarding a debt owed from
someone who has passed away, it is unlikely that you are
responsible for repayment of the debt.  When a friend or
relative passes away, collectors often swoop in and use your
fragile state to coerce you into payment on your loved one’s
behalf.  Collectors often use phrases like “it’s the right
thing to do” or “protect [your loved one’s] good name”.  But
the reality is, most of the time you have no legal obligation to
make payment

As a general rule, consumers are not responsible for making
payment on another consumer’s
debt
, with exception of course.  For example, if you were
a co-signer on a credit card or an account, then you would be held
liable for the debt after the other account holder was
deceased.  Additionally, in several states, spouses are
responsible for repayment of each other’s
medical debts
even after death.   

As a starting point, under the FDCPA, a debt collector can contact
a third party
in an attempt to collect but is prohibited from

disclosing any information regarding the debt
or even that a
debt exists.  The purpose of the call can be to obtain
location information about the debtor.   A collector can
also request information from a third party such as the name,
address and phone number of the deceased person’s spouse, executor,
or any other individuals authorized to pay the deceased’s
debts.

The FDCPA allows a debt collector to speak with the executor of
the deceased’s estate, the personal in charge of distributing the
deceased’s assets.  The law permits a collector to discuss the
debt openly with the executor because he has the authority to pay
off the debt from the assets of the estate.
     
If you have lost a loved one and are being contacted by a debt
collector and feel that his or her conduct may have violated the
FDCPA, contact SmithMarco P.C. for a free case review