Americans Are Dying With An Average Of $61,500 In Debt

Tyler Durden's picture

According to a recent study, the average total household debt in America is just over $132,500, broken down as per the chart below...

... and thanks to the Fed's recent and ongoing rate increases, the repayment of said debt will become increasingly more difficult. So difficult, in fact, that most Americans will be saddled with a sizable chunk of it at the time of their death.

Actually, most already are.

According to December 2016 data from credit bureau Experian provided to, 73% of American consumers had outstanding debt when they were reported as dead. Those consumers carried an average total balance of $61,554, including mortgage debt. Without home loans, the average balance was $12,875.

As reports, the data is based on Experian’s FileOne database, which includes 220 million consumers. (There are about 242 million adults in the U.S., according to 2015 estimates from the Census Bureau.) To determine the average debt people have when they die, Experian looked at consumers who, as of October 2016, were not deceased, but then showed as deceased as of December 2016.

Among the 73% of consumers who had debt when they died, about 68% had credit card balances. The next most common kind of debt was mortgage debt (37%), followed by auto loans (25%), personal loans (12%) and student loans (6%).

The breakdown of unpaid balances was as follows: credit cards, $4,531; auto loans, $17,111; personal loans, $14,793; and student loans, $25,391. And, as a reminder, debt doesn’t just disappear when someone dies.

What happens to that debt when you die, aside from it continuing to accrue interest until someone remembers to inform the creditors?

“Debt belongs to the deceased person or that person’s estate,” said Darra L. Rayndon, an estate planning attorney with Clark Hill in Scottsdale, Arizona. If someone has enough assets to cover their debts, the creditors get paid, and beneficiaries receive whatever remains. But if there aren’t enough assets to satisfy debts, creditors lose out (they may get some, but not all, of what they’re owed). Family members do not then become responsible for the debt, as some people worry they might.

That’s the general idea, but things are not always that straightforward. The type of debt you have, where you live and the value of your estate significantly affects the complexity of the situation. For example, federal student loan debt is eligible for cancellation upon a borrower’s death, but private student loan companies tend not to offer the same benefit. They can go after the borrower’s estate for payment.

To be sure, things can get messy. If your only asset is a home other people live in, that asset must be used to satisfy debts, whether it’s the mortgage on that home or a lot of credit card debt, meaning the people who live there may have to take over the mortgage, or your family may need to sell the home in order to pay creditors. Accounts with co-signers or co-applicants can also result in the debt falling on someone else’s shoulders. Community property states, where spouses share ownership of property, also handle debts acquired during a marriage a little differently.

“It’s one thing if the beneficiaries are relatives that don’t need your money, but if your beneficiaries are a surviving spouse, minor children — people like that who depend on you for their welfare, then life insurance is a great way to provide additional money in the estate to pay debts,” Rayndon said.

The best option, of course, is just to pay it all off while one is alive, however in a nation with over $15 trillion in household debt, that is increasingly unlikely. And, if the Fed normalizes rates as it promises, which for some odd reason means interest on savings accounts doesn't budge even as the interest due on debt ticks up with ever move of the Fed Funds rate, it means that the only possible debt discharge for tens of millions of Americans, will increasingly be the most terminal one too.

It remains unclear if debt incurred in this life carries over into the next one.

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Handful of Dust's picture

Americans are broke!


DEAD MALL SERIES : From Justin Bieber to Just Dead : The Marketplace at Steamtown I love this series!
EuroPox's picture

The Jews have a saying: "You come into the world with nothing, if you leave the world owing, you made a profit."

Stuck on Zero's picture

Sad. Now the banks may not give me that $1.8M home loan when I'm 95.

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

Well, shit.  I need to borrow more.

Creative_Destruct's picture

Well, at least these poor dead bastards weren't Keynesian "hoarders".

secretargentman's picture

One wonders how many of the dead debtors are just "mostly dead"?  Enough debt and there's a strong incentive to fake a death and retire to South America. 

Lost in translation's picture

Thanks for posting this, which you did long ago.

I've enjoyed that series, capitally.

yogibear's picture

Charge and buy a few pounds of gold and give it to a relative or friend you like before you go.

The banksters will be stuck with the debt and someone will think kindly of you.  

CrazyCooter's picture

And imagine all those old timers with zero debt that are kicking over and holding that average down ... I bet if you excluded the zero debt bodies and only looked at the debt bodies ... would be a significantly higher average.



the not so mighty maximiza's picture

thats true , a few goose egg zeros and the average goes way down...

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

This calls for a massive credit card spree on hookers just before I die.

cbxer55's picture

The trick will be in knowing when you will die. ;-)

Creepy_Azz_Crackaah's picture

The hope is that they kill me :)

Kefeer's picture

What does it mean to die?  When one dies; he/she will go to one place or another.  The one is disaster and the other unimaginable in a great way.

Eyes Opened's picture

Thats probably what will kill ya... the hookers and/or the coke... :-)

peippe's picture

this story excludes those who die with no debts outstanding, 

those who die with some form of debt, (73%) average $61,500.

Blue Balls's picture

The Goldman Sachs CEO just came reading this.

the not so mighty maximiza's picture

i am just drinking 15 year old whisky i am sure Goldaman CEO drinks 100 year whisky

Mr. Universe's picture

Nah, he only drinks 23 year old Bourbon Whiskey. Of course it's Pappy Van Winkle 23 and it only costs $2K a bottle

richsob's picture

Fuck it.  My motto has always been live high and break even.  I'd actually change that motto and soak a bank for a fortune when I die if I could figure out a way to do it.

The Ram's picture

It's a matter of timing.  Dieing and sticking the banks and government with the debt is an excellent way to fuck the deep state.....well, assuming you have to die anyway.  It's not just older people.  There are certainly many millenials that believe that the student debt will crash and they will not have to pay it back.  They may be right if the system crashes hard enough.  There is always a counter party, so as long as a fool will lend, a fool (or investor) will borrow.  I have always thought about the scenario of an older person close to death.  The dude maxes out every card to buy tons of shit for his grandchildren.  Little the creditors can do about this if his estate is in order or better yet the old person's whole existance is loans, house loans, etc.  Welcome to the super debt ponzi.  Remember, they have to lend!

chrsn's picture

So long, suckers!

29.5 hours's picture

Unless their debt can be forced onto another living relative, people should not be allowed to die—under restraint of severe penalties or fines. Fines doubled if the transgressor is a student with debt. Those entering a state of death unlawfully will be dug up and taken to court, using all historical precedents provided by the Holy Inquisition in Spain.

Kefeer's picture

I'm surprised it is not more.  What is a consumer verses a non-consumer?

Crawdaddy's picture

The banksters printed money out of thin air then have the temerity to complain that someone doesn't pay them back. That's rich!

GRDguy's picture

Dust to dust;

Thin-air money back to thin-air money.

Betcha they're going to try to make families responsible,

in order to accelerate the rate to reach their "goal to own the earth in fee-simple."

Insurrexion's picture


Die with assets you worked hard to die for, or die with $1M in debt?

Upland27's picture

(((debt and interest slavery)))

kizell's picture

Of course people die in debt.  Our economy relies on debt to function.

BeansMcGreens's picture

Well, you can't take it with you.

beijing expat's picture

Simple. Make the family responsible for the debts of their relatives. Problem solved.

waterwitch's picture

So when the FED dies, do they get to take their debt to their grave?

aloha_snakbar's picture

I would rather owe it to them than cheat them out of it. Come see me in hell, Uncle Scam... well talk about it...

RozKo's picture

There will be no debt Jubilee, when everything comes crashing down the greedy ones in charge will make you pay one way or another. Bankruptcy is a capitalistic concept, what takes over is authoritarian. You will become a debt slave, they will own you. Thats what the whole game plan is about.  

5000yl's picture

Dont worry, the company you owe money to will just sell off your stuff before the kids can get to it. Or they tie your family up in probate til everything is wasted on lawyers fees.

There are no guarentees... except life insurance. Get your shit in a Trust and protect it with life insurance. You pass on more than a 30 rack of CoorsLite that way. And you kids kids start at a higher status in life. This is what I do for people.



the not so mighty maximiza's picture

just POD your shit,   easy and simple

HRH Feant2's picture

Exactly. The beneficiary has immediate access to your checking / brokerage account with ID and proof of death.

And it's FREE. No fucking lawyers involved.

For PMs / BTC / ETH: hide and give directions to your PMs and those teensy little thumb drives. Put a sticker on the thumbdrive with a happy face (hopefully the person you are leaving your BTC / ETH are smart enough to figure out how to use it). Leave instruction / directions / GPS coords to those you love.

williambanzai7's picture

Is there a streaming music service for the dead?

yy140700's picture

The amount of debt at death is not important. The value of the estate NET of debt is the critical number. Even wealthy people die with debt.

BeansMcGreens's picture

If it was good enough for Thomas Jefferson, its good enough for me.

montresor's picture

If it's that easy to dick the banks then the old people should consider being more sufficiently unsuccessful.. Go out with a much bigger bang than 60 grand.. go for a milllion in credit.

cherry picker's picture

It would be a bitch after hearing all these stories about the glory of Heaven, the first thing you meet is a spiritual debt collec tor demanding you pay earthly bills before you can access heaven and the only alternative is the barrio called hades.

Unfortunately for those owing coin, there is no way to go back to pay it.

Best is to declare bankruptcy before you die and make sure the papers are in the coffin with you, that or a check book.  They don't accept crypto currencies in the after life I am told as there are no computers or cell phones up there. :)

Lost in translation's picture

All 168 ounces of silver I own are at the bottom of Lake Powell.

But if I ever have a creditor (doubtful), they're welcome to it.

ElTerco's picture

That sucks. At least you weren't carrying the 1000 oz bricks.

venturen's picture

congress will pass a law to make their families pay it! The 1% want it all!

Lost in translation's picture

Three things I learned when Dad died.

1. Banks come after the heirs. My brother calls me one day, asks, " are you getting nasty phone calls from the bank demanding you pay Dad's debts off?"

"Yep," I replied.

"What do you do when they call?"

"I tell them to piss up a rope, hang up."

2. After you tell the bank your parent is dead, they will A) apologize "for your loss," and then B) ask if you'd like to take over the CC account and use it, yourself. Creepy.

3. You're not responsible for another's debt as long as you never signed.

daveeemc2's picture

Kinda interesting - prolly coincidence - debt clock says most people have 61k in debt owed.

Doan's picture

Borrow as much as possible, put it in gold or cash, bury it, claim you spent it all at the strip club, die, instruct heir on location of buried stash. Anyone dying soon?

yogibear's picture

Exactly. Buy an asset that's portable. Fuck the banksters.