Is the estate responsible for paying rent if an agreement was signed to co-lease an apartment? That is the question considered by The New York Times recently in "A Roommate Dies; Must His Estate Pay the Rent?"
An estate is responsible for any debts of the deceased as well as fulfilling any contracts that are signed. However, sometimes the questions are not as simple.
In the case discussed in the article, a woman was renting a garage apartment with her boyfriend who passed away. She continued to pay the full rent and wondered if she could receive her boyfriend's share of the rent from his estate.
The simple answer is yes, she can.
The estate, if it has the money to do so, would normally be responsible to pay her back for the rent. However, her claim against the estate would not be first in line to be paid, and she would only get paid if there is enough money left in the estate to do so. In Ohio, the law sets out the order of priority for paying the debts of a decedent. A debt such as his share of the rent would have a low priority.
Her position could be strengthened if she and her boyfriend had signed a written agreement about the amount of rent each of them was responsible for and what to do in the event that one of them passed away during the term of the lease.
It is important to receive help from an estate planning attorney when administering an estate so as to ensure the law is being followed properly. An estate planning attorney can also guide you to the answers to any similar questions.
Reference: New York Times (Nov. 5, 2016) "A Roommate Dies; Must His Estate Pay the Rent?"