More Delaware residents are passing away thousands of dollars in debt than in decades past. This could cause many people to want to account for the payment of their debts after their deaths. Estate planning could help them to determine the best way to ensure that their loved ones receive as much of their inheritance as possible.

Under most circumstances, family members will not be directly responsible for the payment of a deceased loved one’s debts. However, that might not stop creditors from attempting to collect payments from surviving family members. Any such calls should be referred to the executor of the estate, since it is the estate that is responsible for handling any debts left behind.

Many Delaware residents believe that their heirs will receive the full inheritances intended for them. However, one of the primary duties of the executor of the estate is to arrange for payment of the individual’s debts as part of the probate process. This means that it might be necessary to try to ensure that those obligations can be met without decreasing the value of the assets left to loved ones.

Numerous estate planning tools are available to help an individual meet this goal. It would be beneficial for those who want to prepare an estate plan to understand all of their options prior to executing any documents. Thereafter, a periodic review of those documents will be necessary in order to ensure that they continue to meet the goals of the individuals. If not, they can be modified or changed in order to reflect current desires.

Source: U.S. News & World Report, “Will Your Heirs Have to Pay Up When You Die With Debt?“, Teresa Mears, June 2, 2016