Q: We’re facing a situation that’s pretty unbelievable. My mother-in-law passed away in her apartment on the day rent was due. My wife found her that day, and notified management immediately. We cleaned out the apartment within a few days, and were shocked to learn that management expects us to pay that month’s rent! Can this be right? –Alan J.

A: As cold-hearted as it appears, management’s demand for rent is probably legal. But that rent should come out of your mother-in-law’s estate, not your pockets. By law, any debts owed by a deceased person must be paid by the estate, and then the remaining assets are distributed according to the will or trust, or according to your state’s laws of intestate succession, if there’s neither a will nor a trust. But beneficiaries are not directly liable for these debts unless, of course, they were jointly responsible for them in the first place. If there’s no money in the estate, then the landlord loses out.

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