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How an estate pays off its debts

Nevada residents who were in a marriage or civil partnership with someone who has recently died are not necessarily liable for their debts. Whether a person is liable for a given debt depends on whether or not his or her name was on the loan. Furthermore, a person may be liable for it if he or she guaranteed repayment in some fashion. Otherwise, outstanding debt balances would be paid from a decedent's estate.

Generally speaking, estate administration costs are paid first followed by funeral costs and the cost of treatment at a hospital. Then, federal income and estate taxes must be accounted for, and taxes could be paid ahead of hospital bills in certain situations. As assets may be used to pay these bills, an individual who was set to receive money or property from a spouse will generally receive whatever is left over after creditor claims.

Executors often do have some leeway as to which assets are used to pay off any outstanding bills an estate has. In some cases, state tax agencies must give approval before certain assets are used to pay any debts associated with an estate. However, this generally depends on the size of the estate and the amount that a state government agency is owed. Nevada, of course, does not have an estate or inheritance tax.

Those who choose to go through the estate planning process may have more control over their assets in life and during death. Proper planning may allow for assets to remain out of reach of creditors and others beside the beneficiary who could otherwise make a claim on them. That may make it possible for beneficiaries to receive a larger share of their inheritance or receive all of it regardless of whether or not an estate has debts to pay off.

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