What happens to debts owed by the deceased?


Find out whether debts were joint (for example, if the deceased was a joint tenant in a property with his or her spouse) or in the deceased’s sole name.

Liability for joint debt may pass to the other debtor. You need to inform any creditors of the deceased’s death. The deceased may have had any insurance which will cover debts.

You can protect yourself from a surprise creditor by advertising for creditors before applying for Probate. The debts must be listed on the application. When Probate is granted, you need to organise paying any debts before you can distribute the remainder of the estate among the beneficiaries. Secured debts such as a mortgage must be paid first, followed by funeral costs, then unsecured debts such as credit cards and bills.

The beneficiaries of the estate will receive what is left after debts have been paid. If the value of the estate is not sufficient to cover the debts, the estate is insolvent.