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Paying debts of the departed

Question:

My mother just passed away and it became known to me that there are several outstanding debts amounting to over $4000.
My brothers explained to me that we have no legal obligation to assume responsibility to finish paying off these debts.
Nevertheless, I feel that is the proper thing to do, and we also know that she was very worried and troubled by bills, even though we didn’t know specifically what she meant at the time.
I also feel personally responsible to some extent, because I am her eldest son and I was estranged from her for many years, and I feel if only I would have been there for her, she would not have gone into debt in the first place.
However, I am a poor person who lives off of tzedaka, and am struggling very hard just to pay my monthly rent, which is overdue because of the recent events with my Mother’s health.
Also, one of the debts was for a dubious facelift which I would not have approved of.
According to my brother, it was not successful, and she ended up with a giant debt which she was still paying back 10 or 15 years later, until she just passed away.

So is there any inyan for me to repay my late Mother’s debts?

 

Answer:

Hamakom yinachem eschem b’toch shar avelei Tzion v’Yerushalayim,

Both you and your brother are correct. You don’t have a legal obligation to pay her debts, and the debtors will not have a valid claim in bais din which would force you to pay her debts. On the other hand, you are very correct that it is the correct thing to do. It is understandable that she was very worried about her outstanding bills, as it is well known that al pi kabala, a person’s neshoma does not get to its final resting place until the neshoma has paid off all of its debts. It is very painful for the neshoma to have to come back down to this world to pay them off. Therefore, it would be a big chesed and mitzva on your part to help the neshoma of your mother.  (The fact that it was for an expense that you didn’t approve of, doesn’t change the facts at this point. Besides, it is difficult to judge the pain of others, and we don’t know how bad she emotionally needed it.) On the other hand, if you don’t have the money for your personal expenses, you can’t really do it.  Maybe there are other things that can be done, such as asking the people she owns the money to, to forgive the debt, or to ask other relatives if they can help out. Additionally, there is another, important thing that we shouldn’t forget, to daven. To ask Hashem to help the neshoma of your mother and yourself, to find some sort of way of solving this problem, at this point your mother can no longer daven for this, but you can.

May HKB”H send you siyata dishamaya, to help you with this issue and any other financial issues that you have.

Best wishes

 

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