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Helping People Age with Dignity

Many Americans have debt at the time of their death

Assets aren’t the only things that can be in a person’s estate when they die. Debt can also be present. Recent statistics point to dying with debt being fairly common here in the United States.

The statistics are based on a database containing data on some 220 million consumers. The database is from Experian, the credit bureau. According to the statistics, nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of consumers die with outstanding debt. Generally, when a person has outstanding debt when they die, only their estate is liable for the debt. When an estate contains debt, various important estate administration issues regarding the debt can come up for the estate’s personal representative.

According to the data, the average amount of outstanding debt among people who die with debt is $61,554. So, in addition for it being fairly common for a deceased’s estate to contain debt, it is also relatively common for such estates to have a rather substantial amount of debt. The amount of debt an estate contains is among the things that can impact how complex the estate administration process ends up being.

There are a range of different types of debt a person can have at the time of their death. Different types can raise different issues when it comes to the administration of a deceased’s estate. Which types of debt is it most common for people to have when they die? The above-mentioned data pointed to the top three being:

  • No. 1 – credit card debt.
  • No. 2 – mortgage debt.
  • No. 3 – auto loan debt.

Whether or not a personal representative properly addresses debt-related issues that are present for an estate can have major impacts for the estate, the estate’s beneficiaries and the representative. Skilled probate attorneys can advise personal representatives on what such debt issues are present when it comes to the estate they are managing and how to best fulfill their duties as personal representative when it comes to these issues.

Source: Fox Business, “Americans Are Dying With an Average of $62K of Debt,” Christine DiGangi, March 21, 2017

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