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A quarter of Brits are left with a loved one’s debt after they pass away

Funeral plan specialist, Perfect Choice, recently conducted a survey which revealed that a quarter of Britons have been left with a family member’s outstanding debts, averaging £1,450, following their death. We also found that the majority were completely unaware of the financial situation prior to the person’s passing.

In the study we polled 1,784 British adults, all of whom were aged 18 or over, with an even gender split. In order to take part in the survey, all participants were required to have had a bereavement of a family member within the past 5 years.

Initially, we asked participants whether they had been left with debts following the passing of a family member, to which a quarter said that they had. Only one in five of these (21%) were aware of the debts prior to their family member’s death. We then asked the 79% who were unaware of the debts, how soon after the death they discovered the outstanding sum. The majority (64%) said that they had discovered the debts within a week of their loved one’s passing. A further 10% confessed that it had been over a year before they had been aware of debts left to settle.

We wanted to understand the various debts left behind in these situations so we asked all respondents who had been left debts by loved ones to disclose the types of debt that been inherited (excluding mortgages).  Participants were able to select all answers they felt were applicable, which gave us the below top 5:

1)      Credit cards – 61%
2)      Bank loans – 54%
3)      Store cards – 32%
4)      Overdrafts – 25%
5)      Payday loans – 18%

We then sought to establish how much the families were left to deal with, asking respondents to “Please state how much debt you inherited following the loss of your family member.” Our team at Perfect Choice calculated that on average, those left with debt when their relative died were on average responsible for an outstanding sum of £1,450.

Finally, we asked those who had to take on the debts for their deceased family members how long had they had taken to clear the amount. Our team revealed that the inherited debts took an average of 7 months to repay. We concluded the survey by discovering the relation of the respondent to the deceased; those who inherited debt were most likely to be partners of the deceased (39%), followed by siblings (21%) and finally children (15%).

Whether expected or not, the death of a family member is usually an incredibly difficult time, so revealing debts that might exist can be a difficult subject to handle on top of all the other emotions that relatives are going through. Obviously, we strongly believe in planning for the future and including the subject of debt within that is important, to spare relatives more pain than they already have to go through.

Perfect Choice Funeral Plans is a trading name of Ecclesiastical Planning Services Limited Reg. No. 2644860 which is registered in England at Beaufort House, Brunswick Road, Gloucester GL1 1JZ.
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