The Instigator
brian_eggleston
Pro (for)
Losing
65 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
67 Points

If a deceased person's wealth can be inherited, then so should their debts.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/29/2009 Category: Politics
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 4,202 times Debate No: 9876
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (17)
Votes (22)

 

brian_eggleston

Pro

Here's a story. It's sad but true.

Having been banned from driving for five years, a very good friend of mine celebrated the recent return of his licence by purchasing a 1963 Series III Bentley Continental Drophead Coupe finished in midnight blue with coachwork by Mulliner Park Ward, fitted out with magnolia Connolly hide and inlaid walnut appliqu�s.

On the day it was delivered, he proudly drove off in the direction of the pub intending to show the car off to his mates but he had only gone a couple of blocks when disaster struck.

Suddenly, and completely without warning, a middle-aged woman decided to cross the road right in front of him. She came out between two parked cars so there was absolutely no way he could avoid her and she subsequently hit the car square on.

As a result of this collision, the woman went over the top of the car, causing a large rip in the colour-coded mohair soft-top roof in the process. Worse still, her wheelchair seriously damaged the Bentley's lovingly-polished, hand-crafted, chromium-plated radiator grill.

Since the police agreed that my friend was totally blameless he sensibly employed a decent firm of lawyers to take legal action against the woman in order to recover the costs he had incurred as a result of the incident and the court duly found in his favour.

However, before the woman had discharged her substantial financial liability to my friend she died from the injuries she sustained in the accident, tragically leaving my friend to pay the repair bills and legal costs.

Now, this woman wasn't without means and she left her son, the sole beneficiary of her will, her entire estate which included both cash and property. Naturally, my friend approached her son in order to remind him of his mother's debt to him but, regretfully, he was unable to appeal to the man's sense of propriety and no payment was forthcoming.

On taking further legal advice it transpired that the woman's son was under no obligation to settle my friend's claim and, indeed, no firm of lawyers or even a debt collection agency agreed to pursue his case.

As a result, my friend is now left contemplating sending some hired muscle round to visit the woman's son in order to emphasise his moral duties with regard to the matter, but surely it shouldn't be the case that he has to go to yet further expense in order to recover the money he is owed? Surely he should be afforded the protection of the law? After all, he has suffered a considerable financial loss through no fault of his own.

You see, I told you it was a sad story.

Unfortunately, though, this type of tale it is far from unique and, as the law stands, many people have to write off debts when their creditors die, even though the beneficiaries of their estates inherit the financial resources to pay the deceased parties' dues.

http://www.tfgi.com...

Therefore, I hereby affirm that if a deceased person's wealth can be inherited, then so should their debts.

Thank you.
Danielle

Con

It seems as if Brian's friend had a terrible attorney.

When someone dies, their estate is left for someone to handle (typically a spouse, child or lawyer). That individual -- in this case, it would be the woman's son -- is responsible for making sure that all final bills are paid on behalf of the deceased. The first thing to pay off are secured debts, i.e. mortgages, car payments, or any debts that were expected to be paid off over a certain amount of time. Next, any medical bills or other debts are required to be paid off; it seems as if Brian's friend had the court on his side in this one in determining that the woman did indeed have a debt to him. As such, Brian's friend should have had no trouble in legally collecting all money presumed owed to him.

Now, because this resolution encompasses more than just Brian's friend, I'll continue. You cannot inherit a debt unless (a) you were a party to it prior to the debtor's death, or (b) you have a joint credit card or bank account with the indebted deceased. This is for obvious reasons. If it's not clear to you, I'll explain: Why should someone be responsible for another's debt when they had absolutely nothing to do with it or no say/decision in the matter? More importantly, who gets to decide who that responsible someone is? Surely one would say, "Well the person benefiting from the deceased's assets, of course!" Well, yes and no. The beneficiary is responsible by law to use those assets, i.e. sell them for money, to pay off ANY debt on behalf of the dead. In that case, the debt wouldn't be inherited - it would be paid off using whatever the dead left behind first and foremost before any type of inheritance could take place.

Now, in a situation where there were no assets, the answer is "Tough luck" to any creditors who don't get paid (that's why credit is bad in the first place -- it's an assumed and accepted risk). Similarly, if there were no assets in this case, then Brian's friend would simply unfortunately have to accept the loss. It would be a tragic accident, the same way a tree falling on Brian's friend's car would be a tragic accident, but he would not be entitled to anything further than what his insurance company was willing or required to pay. Indeed there's a lot of bad ck out there and sometimes we're the recipients of it. It happens. In this case, I'm very surprised that the debt is even an issue. Nevertheless, this bad luck is not enough to take legal action to punish an innocent party monetarily. I'll stand by that statement until my opponent responds. Good luck!
Debate Round No. 1
brian_eggleston

Pro

Hello again theLwerd and thanks for taking this debate.

In reply to my opponent's contribution, I wouldn't say my friend's solicitor is a lousy lawyer, rather that my friend is very unlucky, as she rightly observed. Indeed, he's always been unlucky - I reckon if he fell into a bag of t!ts he'd come out sucking his thumb!

In his case, had the woman that caused the damage to his car up refused to pay, he could have taken a charge on her house and forced her to sell it to get his money but she didn't refuse to pay, she just died before she had a chance to write him a cheque. No, it is her grasping, insensitive son who my friend has got an issue with, although, in fairness, there wouldn't be a problem in the first place if his late mother had been more careful when crossing the road, although in fairness to her, she had just been to the rotisserie to pick up a freshly cooked chicken and was being chased down the street by a pack of stray dogs immediately prior to the accident, which might have distracted her a bit.

So, my opponent is right in saying that if debts are secured against the property, the beneficiary would be liable to pay, but is wrong to say that all debts must be paid from the deceased's estate - the executor of the will need not settle unsecured any loans or debts.

For example, say this woman had bought on credit a stair-lift so she could get upstairs to the bathroom; the retailer couldn't demand that the outstanding payments be made from her estate when she died. They could go round to her house and take it back, but they probably wouldn't bother because each unit is made bespoke and the chair itself wouldn't be worth much, especially if she was incontinent.

Or say the woman had outstanding fines that the courts had imposed upon her for thieving roasted chickens or for driving her wheelchair recklessly, her son wouldn't have to pay them off when she snuffed it.

At the end of the day, we all suffer when the beneficiaries of a will don't cough up. The parties who have to write off their debts are often companies that provide unsecured credit on their goods and services. This means they have to increase their prices to cover bad debts. In other words, ordinary, hard-working consumers have to pay more for goods and services just so people who inherit unearned property and cash can dodge their financial liabilities. In effect, decent honest people are paying for the posh to quaff champagne and gorge themselves on fois gras, white truffles and caviar.

No, that's not fair and I, therefore, reaffirm that if someone can inherit a deceased persons' wealth, they should also be liable for their debts.

Thank you.
Danielle

Con

A few things:

First, Brian says that the woman who died simply did so before ever being able to write his friend a check. That seems unlikely since she apparently got beat up so badly to the point where she died, but more importantly, you'll notice that back in R1 Pro wrote, "Since the police agreed that my friend was totally blameless... the court duly found in his favour." Since the court ruled in the plaintiff's favor, it implies that at least some type of official legal action was taken, and as such my point about the woman's son being responsible for the debt stands (especially if there were any types of records or documents, which there is for every legal endeavor).

Second, Brian provides an example of a purchase (debt) which would not have to be paid off upon the person dying. He is completely right; I thought I already addressed that in R1 when mentioning the "tough luck" kinds of debts, but it seems I forgot to include that specifically when talking about how any credit purchase is bad for the creditor. Regardless, the same argument still applies; I'm not offering a new one. As I said, there is some assumed and accepted risk when giving credit to someone. As such, the creditor makes a decision to accept that risk in the hope that they'll profit from the interest of the credit. Because they do that willingly, then the risk is part of the deal and I don't think that's a decent enough argument to burden someone else with the debt when they had nothing to do with it in the first place. Meanwhile, the creditor did and is in fact responsible for that existing debt.

Regarding the example with the outstanding fines for stealing chickens, I stand by my statement that all debts in the form of fines must first be paid [1], as that isn't so much a debt that a creditor chose to take a risk on, but rather something on the record for which the deceased was responsible (similar to her responsibility to Brian's friend). Additionally, if we have a problem with credit rate being increased because of debts that aren't paid, we can simply choose not to buy anything on credit or choose a provider with a lower rate.

Additionally, Brian never proved why someone should be responsible for a debt that they had nothing to do with. Suppose the deceased's assets and estate did not cover the total amount of the debt owed. The living would then be burdened; and further, I've already asked (and didn't receive an answer) as to whom that living should be, especially in the case where there was no estate/assets to be inherited. For instance, if I were estranged from my father for 20 years, but then he died and I inherited his debt, that would not only be incredibly cruel but also undoubtedly an infringement of rights -- you simply cannot impose another's debt onto someone outside of legal parameters.

[1] http://www.betterbudgeting.com...
Debate Round No. 2
17 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
You know, if this were actually enacted -- people inheriting debts -- the entire nation would be in an uproar. Without sounding like a sore loser, I fail to see how I'm losing this debate lol. As I've said, when someone inherits money, they are legally bound to pay off any secure debts i.e. car payments, credit card payments, mortgage payments, etc. However in the case that one DOESN'T inherit any assets, an individual should NOT be held accountable for debts they have nothing to do with! That's insane.
Posted by brian_eggleston 7 years ago
brian_eggleston
TheLwerd is right in so much as a court order should be secure in most circumstances but in this case it wasn't just because the defendant died before the order could be secured on the property (it cannot be done retrospectively). It is a very unusual scenario indeed.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
Regarding Brian's anecdote, I pointed out in the debate that his friend must have had a terrible lawyer because he SHOULD be getting that money (as it seems the court had deemed in his favor, giving the plaintiff a legal obligation to pay off that debt via their assets or estates upon death). This debate resolution was structured around an absolute; in other words a statement that must be true in all cases. As such, in saying you don't think that random people should inherit debt when there are no assets given, YOU are actually agreeing with ME.

To clarify, you said, "I didn't say anything about making the living relative pay anything out of their own pockets. If the debt owed is more than the inheritance, then tough luck the person doesn't get an inheritance." I agree with you. But once again, the resolution doesn't specify so we are to assume that one should inherit all debt in all cases. I disagree, and no, not just for the sake of arguing so please don't placate me.
Posted by nonentity 7 years ago
nonentity
I will agree that "inherit debts" may not be the right phrase. But based on Pro's anecdote, it doesn't seem like the debts would be "inherited", just that they should be paid out of the inheritance.
Posted by nonentity 7 years ago
nonentity
"If my dad had a credit card debt and died with no money, I shouldn't be responsible for it since I had nothing to do with it and it wasn't a secure debt. It would be cruel and unfair to burden me with that responsibility. Plus - why me and not my other siblings? How do you decide who is responsible? What if we were estranged? Not to mention that once again the creditor assumes that risk of accepting a loss when they give credit in the first place. I could go on, but this is getting redundant."

Redundant? Read my original post to which you asked if I read the debate. I said nothing of making a random person pay someone else's debts. Like I said, sounds like you're arguing for the sake of arguing. Can't pull this one over my eyes, hun.
Posted by nonentity 7 years ago
nonentity
And as I said

"It's not about making an innocent bystander (the relative) pay for someone else's mistakes. If a deceased person has money, then that money should go toward paying off their debts, especially when it has been agreed upon. If there's anything left over, then it should go to their relative(s)."

I didn't say anything about making the living relative pay anything out of their own pockets. If the debt owed is more than the inheritance, then tough luck the person doesn't get an inheritance. If you haven't seen your uncle in 20 years then why should you get his money anyway...
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
Moreover, what about inheriting a debt when there ARE no assets? I've already pointed out in the debate that you can (and should) only inherit debt when you are a party to that debt, unless you receive assets to cover that debt. If my dad had a credit card debt and died with no money, I shouldn't be responsible for it since I had nothing to do with it and it wasn't a secure debt. It would be cruel and unfair to burden me with that responsibility. Plus - why me and not my other siblings? How do you decide who is responsible? What if we were estranged? Not to mention that once again the creditor assumes that risk of accepting a loss when they give credit in the first place. I could go on, but this is getting redundant.
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
If you read Brian's R1 argument, you'll see that the debt in question wasn't what they would call a "secure debt" which automatically gets taken from your assets/estate when you die if you don't have any money. As I said in the debate, there are certain debts that DON'T get paid off via your assets, including credit cards. I've explained why I don't think credit card debts should be inherited.

"As I said, there is some assumed and accepted risk when giving credit to someone. As such, the creditor makes a decision to accept that risk in the hope that they'll profit from the interest of the credit. Because they do that willingly, then the risk is part of the deal and I don't think that's a decent enough argument to burden someone else with the debt when they had nothing to do with it in the first place. Meanwhile, the creditor did and is in fact responsible for that existing debt...

Additionally, Brian never proved why someone should be responsible for a debt that they had nothing to do with. Suppose the deceased's assets and estate did not cover the total amount of the debt owed. The living would then be burdened; and further, I've already asked (and didn't receive an answer) as to whom that living should be, especially in the case where there was no estate/assets to be inherited. For instance, if I were estranged from my father for 20 years, but then he died and I inherited his debt, that would not only be incredibly cruel but also undoubtedly an infringement of rights -- you simply cannot impose another's debt onto someone outside of legal parameters."
Posted by nonentity 7 years ago
nonentity
"TulleKrazy, did you even read the debate? That's exactly what I said."

I did read the debate, I just don't understand how what you were saying makes sense as a "con". If you agree that out of assets inherited, debts should be paid, then that means you agree with Pro, no? It kind of sounds like you're arguing for the sake of arguing, when in fact you both agree...
Posted by Danielle 7 years ago
Danielle
TulleKrazy, did you even read the debate? That's exactly what I said.
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Vote Placed by Udel 1 year ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Con explained any creditors who don't get paid are SOL because credit is an assumed risk. She says people should not be responsible for other people's debts if they are unaware of them. Pro says his friend had a bad lawyer, but either way people get screwed when dead people dont pay their debts and have to raise prices for all consumers. Con says the market adjusts for the increased rates and there are ways to combat them. Brian never proved why someone should be responsible for a debt that they had nothing to do with. Con explained that inheritances pay debts and it would be problematic to impose debts on a potential stranger, which pro did not respond to.
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