Leave The Widow Alone

Mike paid a friend to do some work for him. A month later, he committed suicide. Mike wants to know how to approach the widow about recouping some of it. Dave says Mike's lost his money.

QUESTION: Mike in Los Angeles paid a friend to do some work for him. A month later, he committed suicide. He didn’t complete the work, and Mike wants to know the best way to approach the widow about recouping some of this money. Dave says Mike’s lost his money.

ANSWER: Legally speaking, his estate is responsible for his debts. Unfinished work to you is a debt, and his estate consists of what he owned minus what he owed. You’re one of the creditors for the estate. You would file a claim with the estate to pay the bill. If he died with nothing, you’ve lost your money. His wife is not liable at all. You’re not liable for your kids’ debts either. You’re not liable for your parents’ debts. When you die, what you own stands good for what you owe. If there’s not enough owning to pay off the owing, there’s no money.

Your friend’s portion of the home he owned with his wife is an asset of his, so he’s not broke—maybe. He may have owed more on it than it was worth. If there was some equity, the widow doesn’t owe you, but you could take a lien against this house, and in order for her to get to keep the house, she’s got to pay you. That would be proper and legal. But then you have to ask yourself if this is something you really want to do.

I’m going to give you my advice. Tell your wife to shut up and leave this widow alone. You make $200,000 a year. The guy committed suicide. It’s $6,000. Forget it and walk away. Your wife is completely out of line. If you guys were broke and this lady had a big pile of money and she was a jerk and her husband was a jerk—the guy was obviously a very troubled soul—he’s gone, and you’re going to go beat up on a widow for $6,000 when you make $200,000. Tell your wife to shut up. That’s unconscionable. That’s not a legal opinion; that’s a spiritual opinion.

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