Getting out of a lease if deceased.

In September of last year, my aged brother entered into a one year lease. This year, the landlord insisted on another one-year lease. Brother had a bad fall on October 1st and died 5 days later. The landlord has informed me that he will not release the estate from the lease.

Without the $4800 per month pension, the estate has no income and little cash. It does have (A) $38k in high-interest credit car debt, and (B) real estate worth about $300k which may take months to sell. I’m considering using the cash to pay the credit card debt and telling the landlord he can (A) take two months rent now and release us from the lease or (B) wait until the real estate is sold, which may take six months. I would be willing to loan the estate money if, and only if, the landlord takes option (A).

Any suggestions otherwise?

If you’re going to have a lawyer involved with everything involving his death, let them know what’s going on and see what your options are. In any case, at least until it’s figured out, make sure whoever is handling the estate knows not to pay that bill.
I couldn’t tell you if it’s legal or not, but you have to keep in mind, when someone dies, everyone that person has ever owed money to will come crawling out of the woodwork. From their POV, there’s now harm in sending a bill to the estate, the worst that will happen is it won’t get paid.

I’d talk to a lawyer, or even go talk find your (his) city’s housing office and see if they have any advice. Someone should also make sure to find his lease agreement, it’s very possibly there’s an early termination fee or clause that would let you break his lease for a few months rent. A lawyer or someone that works for the city may also be able to tell you if your state has any laws regarding this.

Personally, I think the landlord sees 11 months of rent for doing next to nothing and is hoping you hand him a check.

Did you cosign on the lease? Tell the landlord good luck getting it from the estate. You don’t owe him nothing. It’s no use worrying about the deceaseds credit score. Just walk away. IMO don’t pay the c.c. bill, either.

Can’t you sublease the apartment?

Did you notify the landlord in writing and clear out the apartment? Did you provide him with the address for him him to return all deposits? If you did that, did he send an itemized account of what he was paid inn deposits and what is owed? In my lease, if I notify my landlord that I am breaking my lease, I owe something like 75%" of the next month’s rent. But no means the rest of the twelve month contract.

Most of all, get everything in writing and sign nothing.

Given the above includes “(B) real estate worth about $300k which may take months to sell.” this sounds like a recipe for losing a unnecessarily large chunk of (B).

It’s one thing if the landlord’s being a dick about things. But even if you could get away with it, why do think it’s right or fair for the estate not to repay credit card debt from its assets?

Insurance covers deceased peoples credit accounts. I found this out when my Daddy died. It’s called credit-life.
The OPs deceased brother has gotten out of his lease, whether the landlord likes it or not.

If an estate has no assets, creditors in most states have no recourse to recover from other family members unless they cosigned (a joint credit card). However, if the estate has assets (as is the case here), any debts must be paid off out of those assets, only then is any residual passed on to beneficiaries. You certainly can’t just ignore the debts and pass on the assets to family members.

There is certainly credit life insurance to pay off debts upon death. But it’s insurance that you have to pay for, there is no magical process that automatically makes debts vanish when you die. It’s more common for mortgage debt or auto loans.

As for the lease, well - that’s a question of what the lease says and local statutes, as others have said. Since the estate has assets, it’s likely that the estate would have to pay any applicable penalty to break the lease. Again, you can’t just assume that you can tell the landlord to get lost when there are substantial assets.

The estate is responsible for credit card debt. It is true that there is a form of insurance for paying off credit card debt, but we don’t know that the deceased had it.

This reminds me of a sad story. Years ago a coworker asked me to help her create a budget. She was in her 50’s and living pretty much paycheck to paycheck. She had no assets beyond a very used car. She showed me all of her expenses and they weren’t unreasonable. Except for one. She was paying $45 a month (IIRC) for “credit life insurance” on a credit card that she usually paid the balance on monthly. I asked her if that was some sort of life insurance policy. She said “No, it is so my children don’t have to pay off my credit card if I die.” I told her that her adult children weren’t responsible for her debts when she died. I don’t think she believed me. The sad part, to me anyway, is the predatory practice which the CC company used on this woman.
I have little doubt that the CC company scared her with the lie that her kids would be on the hook for her credit card debt.

Don’t get me started on yearly car inspections.

ETA ; Ninjad by Riemann

Tho not my bailiwick, even if death does not terminate the lease, I’m pretty sure the landlord has a duty to mitigate his damages. In other words, he has to attempt to relet the property. He can’t just let it sit vacant, figuring he has the estate on the hook for the full 12 mos.

So without even knowing what state the deceased was in, and without knowing the residential lease law in that state, you’re comfortable in affirming that the estate has no liability to the landlord?

I can’t see it any other way. The man is dead. You can’t collect, evict or any other legal thing. A dead man is a dead man. If he had no assets the landlord wouldn’t get anything. If the landlord/management comp. wants to sue the estate, I say more power to them. But, I personally wouldn’t just write a check for a years worth of rent. That just plain stupid. The family doesn’t owe it. His estate may owe something, let the judge decide. And I certainly wouldn’t loan the estate the money from my own assets to pay the deceased man’s bills. Nope. Not me.

You’re doubling down on this? The OP is asking for pragmatic and legal advice. I don’t think it’s particularly helpful to provide an account of how you think the world should work, with what amounts to a recommendation to act recklessly with the disclaimer that if it doesn’t go according to your expectations a judge will magically appear to sort out the mess.

well by my personal experience in California becks right if you let the landlord know the parent on the rent is deceased and all you can be on the hook is the next month since you have to give 30 days well in my case the months rent was paid since she died in the middle of the month
Youre also not on the hook for utility bills and such either …… just be prepared with multiple copies of the death certificate ………

I’m not doubling down on jack-shit. I am stating my experience. The OPs MMV.

Death doesn’t automatically terminate a lease, so there’s no ‘get out of jail free’ card. I’d first check the terms of the lease and the tenant laws in the state it’s in; there’s often a way to terminate a lease with X months payment, and a landlord is very often obligated to attempt to find a new tenant and can only collect rent for as long as that takes. I’m not really sure why someone would advise saying ‘good luck getting the rent from the estate’. If the estate doesn’t have any money, then this works fine, but if you actually want to keep the $300k from selling property then it’s a bad idea. It’s fairly easy to sue an estate for a clear debt, and the landlord may even be able to put a lien on the property, which can mess up your sale.

Your “experience” doesn’t mean jack shit. Any and every creditor has a right to make a claim on the deceased person’s estate. That’s what an estate is for.

The estate is, in fact, responsible for the lease in most cases. The landlord has the right to collect rent or a termination fee from the estate if they want to.

Many landlords choose not to bother, and release the estate from any claim and re-rent the unit as quickly as possible, because it’s generally more expedient and less costly than going to probate court. But they aren’t obligated to.

In the OP’s case, the landlord is probably looking for a quick settlement in exchange for going away. The executor or their attorney will have to negotiate it.

And it’s not as though anyone could possibly predict how the OP’s mileage might vary from your experience, is it? I saw an orang utan once. That was an experience, I can tell you.

This might be a bit of a hijack - but why would your landlord agree to a lease that presumably prohibited the landlord from evicting you just because he wants the apartment back or raising the rent for the term of the lease, but allows you to break the lease by paying 75% of the next month’s rent even if the landlord was unable to rent it to someone else for the time remaining on the lease. I would think that the landlord would insist on an agreement where either both sides were obligated for a year, or where either side could end the lease on a month’s notice unless there were some sort of special circumstances.

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