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Is there a "statute of limitations" on debt?

My sister and I just received a bill from a collection agency associated with our mother. Our mother died many years ago and this is the first time we have been contacted about this expense. Is there a "statute of limitations" on debt? We settled our parent’s estate years ago. Are we responsible for this debt after so many years? We do not have any way to even prove its legitimacy. -Jeffrey


Yes, each state has a statute of limitations on how long a debt is considered legally collectable. Depending on state law, the time frame is generally between four to six years from when the payment becomes due. In addition, you and your sister may not be liable for this debt—even if the statute of limitations has not passed. Do not be pressured into paying a debt that is not your responsibility. If you worked with an attorney to settle the estate, I recommend you contact him or her to discuss your rights. The solution may be as simple as sending the collection agency a copy of the death certificate.

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