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The Average Debt Carried by Deceased Americans

by Chuck Bentley April 19, 2017

Columnist Earl Wilson once said, “Today, there are three kinds of people:  the have’s, the have-not’s, and the have-not paid-for-what-they-have’s.”  Who are you?

There were some shocking statistics recently reported, regarding debt carried by deceased Americans.

The credit bureau Experian’s database consists of 220 million consumers, roughly 90% of the adult population in the U.S.

And 73% of their consumers had outstanding debt of $61,000 at death!

The highest percentage was credit card debt, then mortgage debt, auto loans, personal loans, and student loans. If you dont count home loans, the average unpaid balances totaled nearly $13,000.

So, what happens when people die owing money? If they carried life insurance, traditionally purchased to care for beneficiaries, money will go to the estate to pay off any debt. But, repayment can get messy if the deceased co-signed any notes, or had a student loan through a private company.

So, what’s the lesson for you?

  • Have a will. Crown has some great resources to get you started in the right direction.
  • Carry some term life insurance. The amount you need will depend on your net worth, dependents and age. A close friend of my wife lost her husband suddenly and discovered he had failed to renew a life insurance policy. She suffered the shock of losing her spouse and the lack of financial care. You can use this worksheet to find your insurance needs.
  • Remember Romans 8 to “Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law.” If you love your family, get your house in order, pay off your debt as quickly as you can, and leave the company of the have-not-paid-for-what-they-haves.

A great way to start getting your house in order is with Crown’s online MoneyLife Personal Finance Study. It can help you apply God’s timeless wisdom and practical principles to your finances!

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