Consider Debt When Planning Your Estate
April 13, 2012
When planning for the future, many people tend to focus on asset division. However, before you will your Florida home and its contents to your son or daughter, it may be wise to factor debt into the equation.
Typically, personal debt will lie only with the borrower and cannot be passed down to children or spouses. But there are exceptions. The law varies depending upon the specific nature of the outstanding financial obligations and the state in which the decedent resided.
As one financial planner explained, much is contingent upon how the assets are titled, and whether the debt had any guarantors. If a loved one co-signed your loan or guaranteed a line of credit, he or she would be on the hook for the balance after your death.
If you are insolvent at the time of your passing, all debts will disappear. However, that also means any remaining collateral can be sold and the profits given to creditors, leaving loved ones with nothing.
Even if your estate is solvent, it can be important to remember “creditors always come before heirs.” Your debt will be deducted from your estate and the remainder left to those you have designated as beneficiaries. Usually, debts will be paid from your savings. Should that money prove insufficient, the executor may be forced to sell assets such as cars, stocks or homes.
Even so, not all assets may be sold. Those excluded from the probate process could include life-insurance proceeds, retirement benefits and even real estate, should the property have a surviving co-owner.