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Can You Inherit Debt? 2022 Laws

Can You Inherit Debt

For free and impartial money advice and guidance, visit MoneyHelper, to help you make the most of your money.

Debt can’t be inherited if the respective person passes away.

What happens is that the creditors receive their fair share of the owed money from the person’s assets and estates that they have left behind.

Through this article, I will be telling you what happens to debts when you die, do debts die with you or not?

Don’t worry, here’s what to do!

There are several debt solutions in the UK that can be used to improve your finances. Choosing the right way to tackle your debt could save you time and money, but the wrong one could cause even more harm

It’s always best to find out about all your options from a professional before you take action.

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What Does it Mean to Inherit Debt?

Inheritance of debt would mean that if someone in your family – let’s say your parent – passes away, they pass on their debt to you.

However, that is not how someone else’s debt becomes your responsibility.

Their debt is not passed on to anyone, rather their estate that is left behind is used legally by the claimants to take the owed amount.

What Happens to Debt When You Die?

So, if your debt isn’t passed on, does debt die with you?


Debts are neither cancelled when a person passes away, nor does someone inherit debt.

Instead, the claimants are given access to the expired person’s assets and estate so that they can obtain their fair share of the owed money from the deceased’s property.

However, the rare cases when debts do die with you is when the estate that you are leaving behind isn’t enough to completely pay the debt off.

In such a case, the available amount is taken, while the remaining debt is then cancelled or wiped off.

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Do All Debts Die with You?


The only time when your debts are cancelled or wiped off after your death are when your property isn’t enough to pay off the debt completely.

However, in some cases, someone else is responsible for your debt after your death.

This happens if you had already chosen them in your will for the credit agreement.

So, if you had already agreed that a certain person would be responsible for your debts after your death, then that person has to pay off your debts.

Because if that person tries to escape the responsibility of debt despite providing a personal guarantee previously, the credit can sue them.

When Can You Inherit Debt?

So, this means that you can inherit debt, only if this was decided back during the actual debtor’s life.

The way this works is if during their life, the person had put your name in the will, and you had provided a personal guarantee that you would take over the responsibility of their debt in case they pass away.

Another similar case is when you cosigned the debt, or the deceased person had taken a debt from a joint bank account that they shared with you.

Then you are equally responsible for the debt.

How Are Various Debts Paid Off After a Person Dies?

Since the debt doesn’t automatically wipe off on a person’s death, there are a number of ways through which creditors claim their fair money.

For your ease, I’m mentioning the major ones.

Rent Arrears

If a deceased person left behind rent debt on property that they shared with someone else, then the other person becomes wholly responsible for those rent arrears after the previous person passes away.

So, if you share property with someone who died, their debt becomes your complete responsibility.


There are two ways mortgages are handled.

If there is life insurance involved, the insurance pays off the owed amount. Therefore always check if you have death cover insurance for the mortgages.

If not, the concerned property left behind by the person is to be sold.

Bank Account

If the person who died had taken a loan from a joint account that they shared with you, you are responsible for all their debt after their death.

Whether you took the loan with them or not, as long as you share the account, you are responsible for it.


Just like the estate and property are used by the creditors to take their money from the deceased person’s assets, so are the savings.

All the person’s savings are passed on to the claimants before any can be passed on to their family, etc.

Credit Card Debt & Personal Loans

Debts on credit cards or personal loans are secondary debts.

This means that these debts are only settled after the other priority debts are gotten rid off.

Then if there is still estate held by the person, they are used to pay the claimants of a credit card debt, or so on.

Remember that if the credit cards were shared by more than one person, then the other people would be responsible for the debt.

But if credit cards are covered by payment protection plans and life insurance, the debts are not taken out of personal property.

Tax Debts

Tax debts are priority debts.

This means that any tax that is owed by the expired person is instantly claimed through estate.

Fuel Bills

Just like rent arrears, fuel bill arrears are settled through two ways.

If the bills were shared by more than one person, the person left behind is responsible for the,.

If they were not shared, the owed money is taken from the deceased person’s property and savings. 

Dealing with the Debts of Deceased

It is important to know that although when someone dies, the debts of the deceased are paid off through their estate, property, etc., there is a particular priority order adopted for it.

Your secondary loans and debts are paid but not before some other essential debts, costs, etc., are taken out of your savings.

Funeral Expenses

Although to arrange the burial and funeral of the deceased, the next of kin is to be traced, the person responsible for the burial is allowed to access the deceased’s properties in order to pay for the arrangements.

In other words, there is no financial obligation on anyone to arrange the burials costs if someone dies.

Even Before the debts can be paid, the person is allowed to use the deceased’s savings for their funeral expenses.

Joint Debts

If the deceased had taken a joint loan with someone, all the responsibility of the joint debts would go to the person who’s alive.

The only other way this can work is if some insurance policy applies on the debt and it paid off through that.

Secured Debts

As far as debts that are secured against assets are considered, there are two likely situations.

If the assets was the lone property of the deceased, then it is used to pay off the debt.,

But if it;s a joint property, then all the assets are passed on to the remaining owners and so is the debt.

Therefore the debt is then the responsibility of the second owner – or so on – of the assets.

Unsecured Debts

Even if the debts aren’t secured, the claimants can see the deceased’s properties and assets to claim their fair money.

However, unlike secured debts, unsecured debts aren’t pon top of the priority order and thus can only be cleared after some essential expenses are made.

Individual Debts

Individual debts are the expired person’s sole responsibility and not passed on to anyone no matter what the consequences. 

These debts are paid back in terms of estate, property, or any saving, etc., that the person left behind.

Undisclosed Debts

Sometimes, you can expect that you do not know everything about the deceased’s debts and might be unaware of some of the money they owe to the claimants.

To fix this problem, it’s suitable that you place an ad in the newspaper regarding the deceased’s estate for any creditor to come forward to the claim.

Even though you could leave this and not follow up with any unknown creditors, it is safe if you do contact them.

This is because if you personally distribute the assets and then the claimants come forward, you will have to pay them from our own pocket.

Testamentary Expenses

These expenses are basically claimed by the people who take responsibility for the deceased’s assets, their distribution, etc.

Testamentary expenses are also paid through the same assets and are considered a priority in the order of priorities.

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What if the Deceased Had More Debts than Assets? – Insolvent Estate

When the estate is insolvent, it means that the deceased person has more debts than assets, and there isn’t enough estate to pay off the debt.

This means that even if all the estates are handed over to the claimants, the debt is not gotten rid of and some of it has to be wiped off.

This also means that anyone who was to inherit the assets of the person will get nothing.

But there is a set priority order and the debts are only paid off after some necessary payments are made first, such as funeral costs, certain taxes, etc.

Does Insurance Help?


Insurance is a great way to get rid of the deceased person’s debts.

So, before claimants try to claim the estate left behind, check if the person who died had mortgage death cover insurance, payment protection plan for personal loans and credit card loans, etc.

In fact, if a person dies in service, a good sum of money is always given to him from his pension.

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FAQs – Everything to Know About Debt Inheritance

Who gets paid first from an estate in the UK?
The administrative costs are the first ones to be paid off from the estate of a deceased. These generally include court fees, filing fees, attorney’s fees, etc.
How long after death can creditors claim debt?
Creditors can claim money from a deceased person within no more than 5 years of their death. After this period, the debt is cancelled.
Who is next of kin when someone dies?
The next of kin is a person’s closest living relative. If a person has no spouse or children, the next of kin inherits their assets.
Who pays for a funeral if there’s no money?
If a person passes away leaving no estate to pay for necessary expenses, there is no personal money available for the funeral and burial arrangements. In this case, the local authorities make all the arrangements on their own. This is referred to as a ‘public health funeral’.
What happens to the property after my spouse dies?
If your spouse dies, all the property and assets on their name are transferred to you. However, before this is done, their outstanding bills, ceratins arrears, taxes, and debts, etc., are gotten rid of through the same estate.
Will I receive any property if my deceased family member is indebted?
You can only receive your share in the property or estate after the necessary debts have been taken by the claimants, as well as funeral costs, etc., have been made. You can inherit this property only if you are directly associated with the family member, as in they were your parent or spouse, or they mentioned you in their will, or you are their next of kin. If all their property is given to claimants due to huge loans, then you won’t receive anything.
Are creditors allowed to claim assets?
Creditors have all the legal rights to claim the assets of the deceased person if they owed the claimant money. However, there are few rules that are to be abided by. One is that they can only make the claim within 5 years of the death of the debtor. The other one is that they have to wait and follow the priority order of payments and might get nothing at the end, after which they will just have to wipe the debt off. For more advice on debt after a loved one’s death, you can contact an independent charity such as National Debtline or Payplan.

A Quick Recap

If you were worried that the pressure of your debt might be passed on to your family members, etc. after your death, then all your concerns have been rightfully answered through this article.

No one but you is responsible for your financial responsibilities, unless you have specified otherwise in your will or testaments.

Unless someone was as involved in taking a loan as you, or lives under one billing with you, they cannot be held accountable for your debts.

Are you struggling with debt?

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Are you struggling with debt?
Are you struggling with debt?
  • Affordable repayments
  • Reduce pressure from people you owe money to
  • Stop interest and charges from soaring