Most Consumers Die With Debt, but You Can Avoid That Fate

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A majority of consumers are dying in debt. reports that 73 percent of consumers died in 2016 with outstanding debt — $61,554 worth of debt, on average.

Even when mortgage debts were excluded, these consumers still died with five figures of debt — $12,875, on average.’s findings are based on an analysis of data on 220 million consumers from an Experian database. Experian is one of the three national credit reporting agencies.

The most common types of debt among consumers who died with debt are:

  1. Credit card: About 68 percent of consumers died with credit card balances.
  2. Mortgage: 37 percent
  3. Auto loan: 25 percent
  4. Personal loan: 12 percent
  5. Student loan: 6 percent

What happens to debt after death?

As Money Talks News founder Stacy Johnson explains in “Ask Stacy: What Happens If I Die With Debt?” your estate — rather than your loved ones — will generally be liable for any outstanding debts you leave behind.

Here’s Stacy:

“‘Estate’ is just a fancy word for your assets, or stuff you owned, and your liabilities, or stuff you owed. … In short, if an unsecured debt is in the deceased person’s name only, the debt is not passed on to heirs and family members. It’s owed only by the estate.”

There are many exceptions, however. You can learn all about them in Stacy’s article. After you’re done reading that, check out “How Does Debt Affect Survivors After a Loved One’s Death?”

Facing debt before death

If you’re worried about joining the 73 percent of consumers who die with debt, there’s no time like the present to work on your balances.

To keep from burdening loved ones, tackle any debts for which your family could become liable. If you hope to get out of debt during your lifetime and want to banish your balances as quickly as possible, you might want to start with debts that carry the highest interest rates.

Either way, you can find do-it-yourself guidance in other articles on this site, such as:

Additionally, stop by the Money Talks News Solutions Center and find professional help with the following:

What do you make of the percentage of consumers who die in debt? Share your thoughts below or on Facebook.

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