An estate can become complex when a person passes away and leaves debt.
Most people have not gotten rid of their debt entirely when they pass away, according to Market Watch in “What happens to your debt when you die?“.
Approximately 73% of people in the U.S. pass away while still in debt. The average amount of debt is $61,554, but that average goes down to $12,875 if mortgage debt is not included.
Because you are likely to pass away while still in debt, it is important to understand what will happen to that debt, to make sure it is not a burden on your family.
If it is debt that you alone are responsible for, then your estate will pay the debt out of any available funds before any assets are distributed to your heirs. If your estate does not have enough assets to cover your entire debt, then most types of debt die with you.
However, there are exceptions.
For example, any family member who still lives in a house with a mortgage would be responsible for the mortgage payments, if he or she wishes to stay in the home.
An estate planning attorney can advise you on creating an estate plan that meets your circumstances, including not passing on debt to your family.
Reference: Market Watch (May 29, 2017) “What happens to your debt when you die?”