Will She Be Chased?

John is worried about what his late grandmother's credit card debt might mean for his mom, who is executor of the estate.

QUESTION: John’s mom is executor of his grandmother’s will, and just discovered that grandma has $10,000 in credit card debt. Mom wonders if she will be liable for these debts. Dave explains how the system works, and why mother doesn’t need to worry.

ANSWER: They may hound your mom, but the executor is not liable for the estate’s debts. What you own when you die stands good for what you owe. It’s a balance sheet … assets vs. liabilities. If she has a $4,000 trailer and it sells for $2,000, that money goes to the creditors. Get an estate planning attorney to help you decide how to apply that money.