Pittsburgh, PA asked in Estate Planning, Collections and Probate for Pennsylvania

Q: My father recently passed, resided in PA and had no assets and or no estate He did have over $30,000 of sole-owed debt.

Funeral expenses will be paid by family members. He had less than $250 in the bank, and once Social Security re-claims the pro-rated portion of his monthly benefit paid at the beginning of the month, there will be insufficient funds. There is no life insurance, property, vehicle, etc. Can the credit card company's be notified via letter accordingly, without filing any court or legal documentation?

2 Lawyer Answers
Stephen M. Asbel
PREMIUM
Stephen M. Asbel
Answered
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Philadelphia, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: As a practical matter, if the credit card issuers are notified by letter that your father is deceased, there are no assets available to pay their bills and the family is not raising an estate administration, the likely result will be they will write off the balance. To the extent there is any money left in a bank account, if a receipt showing the funeral has been already paid for, the bank can release funds less than $10,000.00 to the spouse, child, parent, or sibling (in that order of preference) of the deceased person without the need to open a probate estate. As to the use of any such money, payment for a funeral is a higher priority than payment of a credit card debt so any such money can be used toward reimbursing the family members who paid for the funeral before it would have to be paid to a credit card issuer.

David Kennedy Bifulco agrees with this answer

David Kennedy Bifulco
David Kennedy Bifulco PRO label
Answered
  • Collections Lawyer
  • Bethlehem, PA
  • Licensed in Pennsylvania

A: I am sorry for your loss. Since your Father had no assets and no Estate needs to be raised for probate you are under no obligation to contact the creditors and I would advise against it. An unscrupulous creditor could use you or a family members information to attempt to intimidate you into paying when you are under no obligation to do so. I would follow Mr. Asbel's advice and if there is a small amount of funds, reimburse the family members that assisted in paying for the funeral.

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