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What to do when you inherit a money mess

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Inheriting a money mess

When a loved one dies, it's one thing to have to go through a basement full of boxes and quite another to get stuck with the departed's debt.

From tax liens and credit card bills to mortgages and student loans (debt that is at record levels among seniors) heirs are often forced to contend with creditors when they become beneficiaries to an estate.

"It happens all the time," said Austin Frye, an estate planning attorney and certified financial planner with Frye Financial Center in Aventura, Fla. "Even with wealthier estates, there are still debts to be dealt with. Some of that debt sticks to the asset itself and some is just general estate debt, and they're dealt with differently."

Click ahead to get tips on what to do if you inherit a money mess.

—By Shelly K. Schwartz, Special to CNBC
Posted 8 Oct. 2013

Hugh Threlfall | Photolibrary | Getty Images