Let’s say Reuven signed a contract that binds him to pay Shimon $100 per month, for 30 months. Reuven dies after, say, 15 months. What is Reuven’s heirs’ responsibility toward Shimon? Do they have to pay the remaining $1500 immediately? Do they continue paying it over the remaining 15 months? Or are they entirely off the hook? Would it make a difference if the contract was signed over a loan, a sale, a business deal, or any other financial agreement between two parties?

Assume that all parties involved are Jewish, and disregard Dina d’Malchusa Dina for the sake of this question, if it would apply at all. Also assume that there is no collateral being held.


2 Answers 2


As dinonline writes

Inheritors are obligated to pay their father’s debts, provided they inherited enough funds to pay the debts. A creditor can also collect from the estate of the deceased. However, if children did not inherit sufficient funds to pay their father’s debt, they have no obligation to pay the debt.

There is an interesting discussion whether children should pay the debts if they only inherit movable items as opposed to non-movable (e.g., real estate). Al pi din, in times of the gemara, they might not need to but the mitzva of kibud av v'eim (to save their father's reputation) might require them to (see here for further discussion). The Shulchan Aruch writes that nowadays there is a legal obligation to pay also from moveable items and cash (SA CM 107:1).

On the timing of the payments, assuming there are no details in the contract, I don't see why they shouldn't repay according to the original schedule. Since there is a "time value of money", repaying immediately is more expensive that repaying over time. Or in other words, the arrangement you describe appears to be a succession of mini-loans each with a certain due date - and I see no reason to repay before the due date.

Of course CYLOR if this ever becomes applicable in real life.

  • What if they spend all the inheritance money before the last payment is due?
    – Double AA
    Jun 29, 2018 at 11:31
  • Is a time value of money considered anything halachically? If it’s more expensive to pay back immediately, shouldn’t that mean that paying a loan back in advance would be a ribbis issue? Yet as far as I’m aware there’s no such issue - doesn’t that mean time value isn’t a concern halachically?
    – DonielF
    Jul 2, 2018 at 2:59
  1. If the agreement states that the sum is fixed, but the payment will be in installments - the debt remains after the death.
  2. If the agreement says he agrees to pay monthly a fixed sum, Anan Sahadeh (we witness) that it is obligating only while he's alive and well.

This question is a great example of a huge problem with donations by a credit card (at least in Israel). As the deal is often made over the phone, there's no way to clarify the details. If you wish to pay say $10 monthly, does it mean you're committed to pay $120 yearly and that sum is the sum of your "נדר" or all you commited yourself is $10 monthly as long as you can.

So it happens all the times that you only wish to do the later, but the organizations bill the whole sum in installments (so they get the whole sum at once).

  • 2
    Sources, please?
    – DonielF
    Jun 29, 2018 at 16:47

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