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Liability for Debts of Parent

Question: How can I insure that I am not liable for my mother’s debt? My mother has substantial credit card bills, which she is unable to pay from her limited income. She refuses to consider bankruptcy. I want to make sure that I cannot be held liable for any of her debt. I am concerned because I gave her a credit card to use for food and gas. The card has her name on it but is linked to my account. I pay that bill on time but does giving her the card imply that I am allowing her to open credit in her name using my information? If so, how can I protect myself?

Answer: You are not liable for her debts. Absent a signed writing Illinois law does not permit you to be held liable to pay the debts of another. Voluntarily paying some bills of another does not without more make you liable for any bills of that person that are not paid.  Attempts to impose liability for consumer debts on someone who is not legally liable may violate the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act and other laws.

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