0

After death what are the requirements of a next of kin?

For example after my parents die can I say "I'm not touching that with a ten foot pole"? (Not that I would.) I live in Indiana.

2

Nobody is legally required to touch the legal affairs of the deceased. If you have an interest in their affairs (joint ownership of some property), you may have difficulty disposing of your interest other than by abandoning it (unless someone touches it with a 10 foot pole). Their death does not erase your debts. Creditors can sue the deceased and will win a default judgement (defendant failed to show up...), their property can be seized, real estate can be auctioned off for non-payment of property taxes, and so on. At some point, non-physical assets may end up in the state's unclaimed property office until someone claims it. The county coroner will dispose of the unclaimed body.

| improve this answer | |
  • Generally speaking, the only way that unsecured debts of a dead person can be enforced is through the probate process, and creditors can't simply obtain a default judgment. Either the public administrator, or a creditor, opens up a probate case and then creditors file claims with the executor appointed in that process, in order of priority. Generally, secured debt holders (e.g. mortgages) can foreclose outside of probate, and landlords/lessor can evict/repossess out of probate, however. Otherwise, I generally agree. – ohwilleke Mar 12 at 14:13
1

The only requirements of next of kin (and really they aren't specific to relatives although they often apply to relatives) are to:

  1. Cooperate with the coroner or law enforcement to identify a dead body and to provide information for a death certificate (if asked to do so), and

  2. Lodge a last will and testament of the person who died with a court, if you are in possession of it and you do not know that it has been revoked, within a certain amount of time after the death. You don't have to administer that last will and testament, however, even if you are the person named in the will as the executor.

Next of kin (in common law countries including the U.S.) have no liability for the decedent's debts in excess of their claim to an inheritance, against which those debts are setoff. It is not uncommon for collection agencies to fraudulently say otherwise, however, and this is not universally true in countries outside the common law legal tradition although most Western countries with civil law systems have also adopted this rule.

In early modern times (roughly ca. 1500-1800 CE, but obviously varying by country) in most of Asia and in many continental European countries, however, next of kin were responsible for a decedent's debts, a fact that was a common literary trope.

Generally speaking, the only way that unsecured debts of a dead person (i.e. those not attached to specific collateral) can be enforced is through the probate process, and creditors can't simply obtain a default judgment after someone dies. Either the public administrator, or a creditor, opens up a probate case and then creditors file claims with the executor appointed in that process, in order of priority. Generally, secured debt holders (e.g. mortgages and car loans) can foreclose outside of probate, and landlords/lessor can evict/repossess the leased property out of probate, however.

If the assets in the estate exceed the debts for which claims have been made against the estate, anything left over in the hands of the executor (either a public administrator or creditor) would be held in trust for the persons named in a will, or who are entitled to the estate in the absence of a will, unless those people can't be located or those people "disclaim" an interest in the estate. If everyone entitled to the assets of the estate disclaims their interest in it, or cannot be found, within a certain amount of time the property is turned over to the state treasurer or other person designated by law, who holds it for a certain amount of time after which it becomes the property of the state.

As @user6726 notes, the coroner will dispose of the unclaimed body, either at the expense of the decedent's assets, or in a pauper's grave paid for via charity and/or government funds.

| improve this answer | |

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.