Debt After Death: What You Need to Do

Estate planning lawyer

Who is responsible for the debt after death? Many people fear they will be responsible for a loved one’s debts, but we’re here to clear up the confusion. Here’s what happens to a decedent’s debt and what you need to do.

Do Debts Die When a Person Does?

Debt does not go away when a person dies. Their debt needs paying, but relatives and loved ones are not responsible for that debt. The debt must come out of the deceased’s estate. The only time someone other than the deceased is responsible for the debt is if they have co-signed on a loan or other obligation, if the law requires the spouse to pay certain debts, or if they are legally responsible for the debt. The estate pays any debts after death unless there aren’t enough funds, and then they may be unpaid.

Who Pays the Debt?

The executor of a person’s estate is responsible for managing debt payments. If the will names an executor, that person settles the affairs of the person who died. If there is no will, the probate courts assign an administrator. Creditors can present claims to the executor or administrator within eight months of the notification of the person’s death.

What Should You Do?

When a loved one dies, the best course of action is to contact a probate attorney. An experienced lawyer can help you work through any disputes with creditors and the deceased’s assets, navigate the probate process, and manage the administration of your loved one’s will and estate.

The last thing you want to do when a family member dies is manage the business of their debt after death. Contact the experienced legal team at McCutchen McLean, LLC,

for the compassionate help you need in the process.

How to Change a Custody Agreement in SC

Modifications To Custody Agreement

Contrary to what many divorced or separated parents believe, a change to a custody agreement is possible. Lives and circumstances change, and sometimes an agreement that made sense in the past no longer serves the parents or children. Informal custody changes are not considered an order of the court so a parent may have trouble with schools, doctors, or others recognizing the changed custody or authority of the custodial parent. To ensure you protect your rights, and those of your children, you must follow the legal process to make a change.

How to Change a Custody Agreement

The first step to a change in custody agreement is to submit a petition to the family court. Most of the time, the petition, or complaint, will be filed in the same county that initially had jurisdiction over the first agreement. If both parents agree to the changes, the process is straightforward, but there are still formal steps which must be taken to get your new agreement before a judge for his or her approval, and ultimately obtaining the new court order.

If the parents are not in agreement, the parent requesting the change must  submit the petition and include a compelling reason why the change should be ordered, including the substantial and material change in circumstances that occurred since the initial agreement. The family courts will evaluate whether substantial changes have occurred, and determine what is in the children’s best interest. There is no specific time one must wait to seek a change in custody; rather, the crux is what circumstances have changed since the original agreement was approved by the court.

Child Support Formula

Modifications to a custody agreement many times also require reconsideration of child support. The formula used in South Carolina considers, among other things,  the gross income of each parent and the amount of overnights the child spends with each parent. Support obligations would also change if the custody modifications included a change to the amount of time spent with one or the other parent.

In every custody change request considered by the courts, the child’s best interest is a top priority. As a parent, you know what’s best for your child, and as family law attorneys, we know how to help. Contact McCutchen and McLean LLC to find out how we can help you navigate these important legal modifications.



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I have referred several clients to them. My clients are very happy with the outstanding, timely service they receive. James and Robin are extremely smart and professional, yet speak in "plain english" so everyone walks away educated regarding their tax, estate or family law issue.



Smart people that do great work.



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