How Long Can a Debt Collector Try to Collect a Debt From a Deceased Person in Michigan?

Title: How Long Can a Debt Collector Try to Collect a Debt From a Deceased Person in Michigan?


Dealing with the loss of a loved one is an emotional and challenging time for anyone. However, amidst the grief, it is essential to understand the legal aspects of debt collection from a deceased person in Michigan. This article aims to shed light on the duration within which debt collectors can pursue unpaid debts, the responsibilities of the deceased person’s estate, and answers some frequently asked questions related to this topic.

Understanding the Statute of Limitations:

In Michigan, the statute of limitations determines the timeframe within which a creditor or debt collector can sue for a debt. However, it is crucial to differentiate between the statute of limitations for collecting a debt and the time limit for reporting it on a deceased person’s credit report.

Debt Collection Statute of Limitations: In Michigan, the statute of limitations for collecting a debt varies depending on the type of debt. For written contracts, such as credit card debts or personal loans, the statute of limitations is six years. For oral contracts, like medical bills or utility bills, the statute of limitations is typically four years. It is important to note that the statute of limitations begins from the date of the last payment or acknowledgment of the debt.

Credit Reporting Time Limit: The credit reporting time limit refers to the period during which a debt can be reported on a deceased person’s credit report. Generally, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) states that negative information, including unpaid debts, can be reported for seven years from the date of delinquency. However, once a person passes away, creditors should not continue reporting debts in the deceased person’s name.

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Responsibilities of the Deceased Person’s Estate:

Upon the death of an individual, their estate becomes responsible for managing their financial affairs, including any outstanding debts. The estate typically includes assets, such as bank accounts, investments, property, and personal belongings. The executor or personal representative appointed by the deceased person’s will or by the court is responsible for settling the estate’s debts.

The executor’s duties involve notifying creditors and publishing a notice to allow potential creditors to make claims against the estate. Creditors then have a limited time, usually four months from the date of publication, to assert their claims. The estate’s executor should carefully review and assess each claim, ensuring their validity. If the debt is legitimate, it will be paid from the estate’s assets.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Q1: Can a debt collector contact family members to collect a debt after someone passes away?
A1: Generally, debt collectors are allowed to contact family members to locate the deceased person’s estate representative. However, they cannot discuss the debt details or demand payment from family members, as they are not responsible for the debt.

Q2: Can family members be held responsible for the deceased person’s debts?
A2: Family members, including spouses, are generally not personally responsible for the deceased person’s debts unless they were joint account holders or co-signed for the debt.

Q3: What if the deceased person’s estate does not have sufficient funds to cover the debts?
A3: If the estate lacks sufficient assets to pay off all the debts, creditors may have to write off the remaining balance. However, it is important to consult with an attorney to understand the specific circumstances and legal obligations.

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Q4: Can debt collectors seize property from the deceased person’s estate?
A4: Debt collectors may attempt to seize property if they have obtained a court judgment against the deceased person before their death. However, exemptions exist to protect certain assets, such as the primary residence, essential personal belongings, and some retirement accounts.


In Michigan, debt collectors have a limited timeframe within which they can pursue unpaid debts from a deceased person. The statute of limitations determines how long a debt collector can sue for a debt, while the credit reporting time limit governs how long unpaid debts can be reported on a deceased person’s credit report. It is crucial for the deceased person’s estate representative to handle the debts appropriately, notifying creditors, and paying legitimate claims from available assets. Seeking legal advice can help navigate these complex matters and protect the interests of the estate.