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.