Estate Law Questions? Ask an Estate Lawyer.
No, an executor cannot be personally liable for the decedent's debts, nor can an heir/relative; rather the only way a person can be held responsible for a third party debt is if they cosign for that debt, or otherwise assume responsibility for the debt.
If the estate is insolvent (debts exceed assets) then many relatives actually choose not to open probate, and then an interested party (ie a creditor) would need to petition the court to be appointed executor so that they could gather assets and pay off the creditors, to ensure they get paid.
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