Leave No Debt Behind: An Old Mantra Made New Again, And What It Means

13 December 2018
 Categories: Law, Blog


Once upon a time, it was considered a shameful thing to leave any debt behind after you had passed away. That was because the debts were then passed to your spouse and children to pay off, leaving them and all future generations penniless and facing hardship unless they managed to pay off your old debts and theirs. When legal systems did away with debtor's prisons and workhouses, the practice of making living relatives pay the debts of deceased relatives eventually fell away, too. Back then, it was a necessity to live by the mantra, "leave no debt behind" because everyone knew that any leftover debt fell to spouses and children to pay.

For a long time, especially in the self-indulgent decade of the '80s, debt was a weird sign of affluence. It meant you could pay off all of your debt because you could afford to take on that much debt. Thankfully, no surviving family members have to pay those debts. However, times continue to change, and the old becomes new again, including the old mantra, "leave no debt behind". Here is what it means for estate planning and the modern age.


Estate law attorneys are frequently probate attorneys as well. Probate is the process whereby all of your debts are resolved upon your death in a court of law. It relates to the "leave no debt" mantra in that you will absolutely leave no debt when probate is involved. Once all of your debts have been paid and no debt collector or creditor comes forward to claim any money or assets from your estate, the rest of what you leave to your heirs is theirs. The best part is that they never have to worry about any debt you leave because it is not their responsibility. The only responsibility falls to your chosen proctor and administer of the estate, usually an heir, who works with the estate/probate lawyer to settle the debts.

You Can Feel Really Good about No Debt

Clients are often afraid of debt. In some ways, it still has the negative connotation it did a hundred years ago, except it no longer has as much of the punitive measures attached. It is also much easier to settle all of your debts in a way that is satisfactory to your creditors and your heirs. You can feel good about that. Visit a website like https://ivylawgroup.com for more information, such as state-specific laws.