Q. My mother died recently, and I’m getting calls from a collection agency about her outstanding debt. Am I responsible for paying it?
A. In most cases, surviving children are not legally obligated to pay the debt of a deceased parent. To stop a collector from calling, write a letter to the collection agency requesting that the calls cease. Send it by certified mail and ask for a return receipt. Keep a copy of the letter for your records.
If the collector continues to call, in violation of federal debt collection laws, you should file a complaint with the Federal Trade Commission and with your state attorney general’s office.
The FTC also has a downloadable information sheet about who is responsible for a dead relative’s debts.
Carole Fleck is a senior editor at the AARP Bulletin.