Is an Executor Responsible for the Debts of the Estate?
In most cases, debts owed on a decedent’s estate are paid from the estate.  For example, an outstanding loan on a car can be paid from equity the individual had in a home.  Part of the executor’s job is to determine how to pay creditors—not with their own money, but by drawing on the assets in the estate.  Creditors who want to be paid are required to present their request in writing during a certain time period.  Once that time frame has passed, no other claims may be made.   

There are a few instances in which an executor could be responsible for a decedent’s debt.  For example, if the executor co-signed on a loan with the decedent, he may have financial responsibility.  Also, since Washington is a community property state, spouses are each equally responsible for paying each other’s debts as long as one of them acquired that debt during the marriage.  So a surviving spouse, acting as an executor, will be personally liable for any community debt incurred during the marriage.