Statement of Policy Regarding Communications in Connection with Collection of a Decedent’s Debt, Project No. P104806
Relaxing the rules for debt collectors for deceased debtors will increase the stress for families and increase the probability that collectors will not follow guidelines. If there is already a gray area in terms of debt collector behavior, that needs to be clarified, not made more difficult to interpret. The debt collector should only be allowed to communicate with the legal autority to pay the debt. The debt collector needs to determine if there is insurance (mortgage/car loans)that will cover the debt before contacting any family members or business partners. The debt collector could send a registered mail notice to the latest address and post a notice at the courthouse and in the newspaper. The notice wold include the debtors(s) and could include the executor, as a title. This would cover the debtor, any commonlaw spouses and any business partners liable for the debt. If the will is probated and there is an executor, this would be public information and therefore available to the debt collector. For those dying without wills, the debt collector would follow the states' rules of inheritance. Protection of Minors: Procedures need to be instituted to ensure that no minors may be contacted. How can the debt collector know if they are communicating with a minor? Adult relatives may request a co-signor and still remain obligated for the debt. Minors not responsible for debts, but may be more easily persuaded to pay the debt. Minors may be more emotionally stressed during the bereavement period and the stress should not be increased due to financial issues. If the debt collector contacts a minor for information, they may not be aware of what information they should be required to provide.