Debra Booher & Associates Co., LPA
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How death impacts debt

Ohio residents who pass away are likely to do so while still in debt. According to December 2016 data provided by Experian, 73 percent of consumers who died owed money to creditors. On average, an individual died with $61,554 when a mortgage balance was included. Without the mortgage balance, the average individual had $12,875 when he or she passed on.

Of those who were in debt when they died, 68 percent had a credit card balance while 37 percent owed money on a mortgage. Auto loans, personal loans and student loans were also on the list of common types of debt an individual had when he or she died. The average credit card debt balance was $4,531 while the average student loan balance was $25,391. In most cases, the debt does not go away when a person dies.

If there is enough left in an estate to pay creditors, they will get paid. While federal student loan debt is cancelled when a borrower dies, private student loan lenders tend to come after the estate for payment. In most cases, surviving friends and family members are not responsible for a deceased person's debts. However, they may be responsible for any debt that they cosigned for.

One way to avoid dying with debt is of course to take care of it when alive. When it isn't possible to pay it down in full, those who are looking for debt relief may wish to file for bankruptcy with the assistance of an attorney. Doing so may make it possible to get a stay from creditor collection efforts, and in many cases, much of the unsecured obligations will be discharged within months under Chapter 7 or after the successful completion of a Chapter 13 repayment plan.

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