I have an aunt that died without a will and with a large amount of credit card debt. She lived in Illinois before her death. Before she passed away, I physically took care of her and paid a large amount of her final expenses (food, medicine, some funeral expenses, etc). I kept all the receipts and the amount of money I spent is very large.

Her property is going to be sold and I'm worried about how the money gets split up to her debt-holders. Does a court just divide your portion of the debt by the total debt and give you that percentage of the actual remaining money or do they tackle the debt-holders in an order where they settle debt A first, then debt B, then C, etc. where the final debt holders may not be paid if the money runs out?

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    Do you have any sort of contract or agreement with her as far as repaying you? Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 2:20
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    What state or country are you in? Different jurisdictions have different laws.
    – Jasper
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 2:21
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    you say "her property is going to be sold" Who is selling it? If it's a member of your family, that person is probably the executor. You need to tell them about the money you spent as soon as possible. Don't wait for them to ask. As for what a court does, courts only get involved if the parties involved can't work it out. Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 12:02
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    Sorry for your loss.
    – JonH
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 19:37
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    If there is no will you might have to apply to the courts for an Administrator of the Estate. The court will then appoint someone as the Administrator and provide the guidelines of the order in which the funds are distributed. This is how it works in Australia anyway. There would be laws in place in how this os done in the US, you need to find out what these laws are.
    – user9722
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 21:31

1 Answer 1


You have asked this question but provide very little information. As others have stated, what country are you in? Was there a will or any other agreement?

Basically any estate will go to the beneficiaries once all debtors have been paid off. How this is done will largely depend on which country/state/region you are in and what documentation was in place at the time of death.

You might want to check out this website for details on passing away without a will: http://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/how-estate-settled-if-theres-32442.html

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    Documents are an essential point. If there isn't a paper trail ...
    – keshlam
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 13:56
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    This is likely a legal question. Say OP has it all documented. Do debts, both his and credit cards come before the terms of the will? Say he is only beneficiary, and house is only asset, would credit card issuers go after him and the house to get repaid? Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 15:44
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    Yes that is right, the debts are paid first, before anything goes to benfociaries. In Australia, debtors are paid first from the estate and it is the Executor's job to organise this. However, if there are no assets in the Estate then the debtors don't get anything. Debtors also do not get anything from any retirement superannuation fund in Australia.
    – user9722
    Commented Nov 9, 2015 at 21:25
  • Hence the importance of having your accounts in good order, a will, and an executor you trust. I have one of the three, maybe two...
    – keshlam
    Commented Nov 10, 2015 at 13:39

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