Debt After Death: How It Impacts Your Estate and What You Can Do About It

millman law group debt after death

Learn more about what happens to debt after death and what you can do to prepare your heirs.

Do you wonder what happens to your debt after you pass away? It’s not something you may want to consider, but it is crucial to incorporate considerations for debt when creating an effective estate plan. When you craft a comprehensive estate plan with your estate planning attorney at The Millman Law Group, you can find ways to mitigate the impact debt after death has on your beneficiaries and relatives. First, it’s important to understand what happens to your debt after death. 

What Happens to Debt Once Someone Dies? 

After death, the fate of debt depends on numerous factors, including the type of debt, the individual’s location, and whether there were co-signers or joint account holders. If there are enough assets in the decedent’s estate, creditors may be paid off from those assets before the remaining funds or property are distributed to beneficiaries. If the estate’s debt is greater than its value, surviving family members may not be responsible unless they co-signed. 

How Debt Affects Inheritance

Inherited assets are generally used to settle outstanding debts before anything is disbursed to the heirs. Creditors often have the right to make claims against the estate to recover the owed amount. If debts surpass the estate’s value, heirs may inherit little or nothing, depending on the local laws. 

However, because inheritance laws vary, certain assets like life insurance policies or retirement accounts may bypass the estate and go directly to the beneficiaries, potentially shielding those individuals from debt claims. 

Thoughtful Estate Planning Can Decrease the Burden of Debt 

Estate planning is not just about dividing up your estate to different beneficiaries. It also includes minimizing negative tax implications and managing debt so your loved ones are not financially burdened. Estate planning can seem daunting, but starting early and working alongside an attorney you can trust will help you plan an efficient and legally sound plan that provides for your heirs. The six crucial steps of estate planning are: 

  • Draft a Will: Your Will is the cornerstone of any estate plan; without one, state laws will dictate estate distribution. 
  • Consider Trusts: Creating a living trust can help streamline your asset distribution and potentially bypass lengthy and costly probate. A trust can also include provisions for debt payment. 
  • Plan for Tax Implications: Depending on your estate size, federal or state taxes may be due after your death. 
  • Consider Charitable Donations: Charitable giving can help reduce the size of your taxable estate while benefiting causes that mean something to you. 
  • Regularly Update Your Plan: Review your estate plan as your assets, liabilities, and family situation change. 

Finally, build your plan with skilled estate planning attorneys at The Millman Law Group to navigate all situations and make the best decisions for your assets and heirs. 

Estate Planning Made Easy With Millman Law Group

Millman Law Group, PLLC is rare because it’s one of the only law firms that offer life planning in South Florida. From life care planning to the preparation of detailed estate plans, Millman Law Group has committed to serving Floridian elderly communities in Boca Raton, Palm Beach County, Ocean Ridge, Hillsboro Beach, and many other areas since 2018. Our dedicated team also specializes in special needs Trusts and catering to any age demographic because we know for certain it’s never too early to start preparing you and your family for your future. For the latest news in estate planning and elder care law, follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Linked In, and Pinterest. You can also contact us at 561-463-6480.