Who's Liable For Your Debt After You Pass On?

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Who's Liable For Your Debt After You Pass On?

Welcome to our blog post on understanding liability for debt after the passing of a loved one. It's a difficult and often confusing topic to navigate, but it's important to have a clear understanding of the financial obligations that may be inherited by your loved ones.

In this post, we will explore the various factors that can impact liability for debt, including state laws, the type of debt, and the relationship between the deceased and the heirs or beneficiaries. We'll also offer some tips for managing and paying off inherited debt. Whether you are facing the loss of a loved one or are planning for the future, this post will provide valuable information and guidance on this important subject.

The information in this article applies not only dedicated to people owing debts, but also to everyone as we have tendency that we will be able to pay back whatever money we borrow like business loans, auto loans, credit cards, or mortgages in the future.

What if that future we all look forward to is bleak? Or uncertain? What about then? It's crucial that you must prepare and think ahead in such a case or your family might have to carry the unwanted financial burden when death becomes inevitable.

What Will Happen To Your Debts When Deceased?

Life is unpredictable. If you do not have any planning made for your debt repayments, the consequences could fall upon your remaining family members or co-borrowers (if you have borrowed in joint) filled with responsibility for handling debt lumps.

A life insurance policy with a death benefit will be one of the solutions as it can help pay off any outstanding debt. It's critical to comprehend how different debts are managed after death. This will enable you to calculate the amount of coverage required to pay off your current debts.

Familiarize The Terms: When you're alive, everything you own includes both assets (things you own) and liabili­ties (money owed). They are known as 'property', and they become 'estate' once you pass on.

Debts aren't always paid off when people pass away. Although most people think that debts are cancelled once a person dies, there are actually some exceptions. For example, if you owe money to banks, you'll still have to pay up interest even though you're no longer around. However, you won't have to worry about paying off any other debts because they'll just go onto your estate.

You can make sure that your loved ones don't end up being responsible for your debts by making sure that you set aside enough money during your lifetime to pay off your debts. But remember, you can't just put everything into one pot. You need to split the money up into different accounts so that each account pays off the corresponding part of your total debt.

Assets minus Debts equals Net worth.

Let's look into what happens to some common types of debts when you are deceased.

Common Types of Debts

Personal Loans

In Singapore, the deceased person's remaining family members are not held accountable for any outstanding debts. The remainder of the personal loan will often be paid by your estate.

If a joint owner of a loan account dies before paying off the entire amount owed on that account, the surviving spouse or other person who inherits the deceased joint owner's interest in the loan account will be responsible for the unpaid portion of the debt.

How do you know whether the survivor can take over an existing loan? You may want to consider taking out a new loan from another lender to cover the balance due on the old loan.

This also applies with same procedure for credit card insurance to settle debts. When you die, the creditor will usually try to recover the outstanding balance from your estate.


The mortgagee will usually continue to collect the monthly instalment payments until the mortgage has been fully repaid.

However, if the mortgagor passes away without repaying the mortgage, the mortgagee will only receive the value of the property at the time of the mortgagor's death, paid out of his/her estate (i.e. secured loans). Otherwise, the executor (a legal term for a person named in a will to distribute assets to appropriate beneficiaries) will have to sell of the property to pay off the outstanding mortgage.

Home Protection Scheme (HPS) for HDB owners in Singapore who utilizes CPF in mortgage service has benefits due to its insurance where beneficiaries will be able to keep the property as far as dire situations are concerned. Read more about HPS to understand the insurance process better here.

Healthcare bills

In Singapore, MediSave and MediShield Life—a required health insurance program for all citizens and permanent residents of Singapore—can be used to pay the deceased's outstanding medical costs (PRs).

To protect your dependants from financial issues subsequently, the Dependants' Protection Scheme (DPS) offers claims as fundamental financial protection or basic protection (also called national term-life insurance scheme) in case of appalling circumstances.

Beneficiaries of your estate or the nominees of your CPF account can settle outstanding healthcare bills incurred. How? By using your remaining money in your bank accounts.

Funeral expenses

Funeral expenses are generally settled by your estate. If there is no estate left after settling funeral expenses, then the government will help fund the funeral.

Your estate should include sufficient funds to cover these expenses. However, it is advisable to leave a small sum of cash in your bank account to ensure that your family does not run short of funds while arranging the funeral.

Testamentary expenses

You can leave a specific sum of money to pay testamentary expenses such as lawyer fees, court fees, etc., which are payable by your estate.


If your estate owes money to other people, they will also attempt to get their money back. If your estate is unable to pay off your debts, the creditors will seize your property. They may even sell your property to satisfy your debt.

Organizing your finances and other details while you're still living will make it easier for your loved ones to handle any difficulties that may arise after your passing. Buying life insurance is one method of achieving this.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much money would my estate need to pay off my debts?

The amount needed depends on how many creditors you have, what kind of debts you owe, and how long it takes to pay them off.

It is important to note that the total amount of money needed to pay off your debts could exceed the amount of money in your estate.

What happens if I don't have enough money to pay off my debts when I die?

If you do not have enough money to pay your debts, the creditors may take legal action against your estate.

They may seize your assets and sell them to recover the money owed.

If you have children who inherit your estate, they will also be liable for your debts if you did not provide for them in your will.

What are the legal rights of my estate?

This will grant the person the authority to carry out his/her task of administering the estate immediately But, before the inheritance can be distributed legally, certain parties have a right to make claims against your estate.

What happens if the bank sells my collateral?

The bank will use the funds from the sale to repay outstanding loan.

What if I have negative net worth?

Here's what you need to know:If your total debt is worth more than your total assets, then you have a negative net worth and would be considered bankrupt.

Read also: What Happens When You Default on a SME Business Loan? 
Read also: Recovering Your Debt: Turning to Debt Collectors VS Seeking Legal Recourse

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UPDATED AS OF 15 Jun 2024
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