Americans Have So Much Debt They're Taking It to The Grave

Mar 22, 2017

Americans will likely take their debt to the grave.

New data shows that 73% of American consumers die in debt. The average total balance left over is $61,554 (and that includes mortgage debt). The numbers come from Experian FileOne and, which examined the average debt of people who were alive in October 2016 but died in December 2016.

Of the 73% who died with debt, the most common kind of debt was from credit card balances. Mortgage debt, outstanding auto loans, personal loans and student loans followed, in that order. On average, the remaining unpaid balances included $25,391 in student loans, $4,531 in credit card debt, $17,111 in auto loans and $14,793 in personal loans.

What happens to the debt after someone dies depends on the type of debt, as MONEY has reported. For example, if the person who died was married and cosigned a loan with his or her spouse, the spouse will be responsible for the outstanding debt. But, with personal loans like credit card debt, those left behind will not be responsible for the deceased person’s debt. Creditors can make claims on the estate before assets are distributed after a family’s loss.

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