Debts after a bereavement

Dealing with debts after a bereavement adds another layer of distress. We are here to provide support during such a difficult time.

Man and woman dealing with debts after a bereavement

Dealing with a bereavement can be challenging – both emotionally and financially. It can bring up lots of questions and concerns about how to manage debts and other obligations. Depending on your needs, we may be able to help with practical resources for settling the estate, as well as overdrafts, a loan or an increase to your credit limit to help with funeral arrangements. Overdrafts are subject to application, financial circumstances and borrowing history.

What happens to debts when you die?

When someone dies, their debts are usually covered by their estate. An estate is the total of everything the deceased owned at the time of their death. It can include homes, vehicles, bank accounts, investments and any other property or possessions. Some debts may also be covered by insurance policies, so it’s important to check if the deceased had any insurance. This could include death cover for a mortgage, or payment protection cover for personal loans or credit cards.

A probate is required for most estates, and will be managed by the executor. The executor is appointed by the deceased in their will. The probate process ensures that outstanding debts are repaid and that remaining assets are distributed according to the instructions laid out in the person’s will. If Barclays has been appointed as an executor, it’s important to let us know as soon as possible, by calling 0800 068 2238*.

Dealing with different types of debt after death

There are different kinds of debt to consider when someone dies. This can include bank account overdrafts, credit cards, personal loans and home mortgages. It’s possible to have debts that are solely in the name of the deceased, and ones that are held jointly with another person. Each of these will need to be handled differently. If your husband, wife or civil partner died and had a debt on a card that was solely in their name, you won't become responsible for it.

The first step will be to contact each bank and notify them of the bereavement. This should be done as soon as possible to prevent unauthorised use of their cards and stop any further interest from being charged to their accounts.

If the deceased had a Barclaycard account, please call us on 0800 161 5199*. Lines are open 8am-9pm Monday to Friday and 9am-4pm Saturday. To discuss both Barclays and Barclaycard accounts, please call us on 0800 068 2238*. Lines are open 8am-5pm Monday to Friday and 9am-2pm Saturday. You can also contact our team with this online notification form.

What to do if you're struggling to pay off your debts after a death

The loss of a family member or close friend can be a very difficult time. For some, it can also result in financial uncertainty. If you’re struggling financially because of a bereavement, we can help in a number of ways:

  • our financial assistance team can provide support by creating a plan to make affordable payments to help you during this difficult time. You can call them on 0800 051 8356*
  • a wide range of financial tools at Barclays money management to help handle your money and protect your credit score
  • Barclays Budget Planner offers valuable advice on budgeting and staying on top of your finances
  • lots of other practical advice in our Bereavement Guide.

There are also a number of organisations that offer advice and support during this difficult time: 

What happens to debt when you die?

When someone dies, different kinds of debt will be handled in different ways. This will depend on the type of debt, and whose name the debt is in.

What happens to credit card debts?

There are several things to consider when it comes to credit card debt. If the deceased had a credit card that was solely in their name, these debts will be paid by the estate, or by a payment protection plan if they had one. If there are other authorised users on a credit card and the main cardholder dies, other authorised cardholders must stop using the card and apply for a new card in their own name.

What happens to a bank account?

When a person dies, it’s important to notify their bank as soon as you can. That way, the bank can freeze any accounts that are solely in their name. This protects from unauthorised spending or additional interest charges. From that point, no one will be able to touch the money until the estate is sorted out, other than in some cases to pay for funeral costs.

In the case of joint bank accounts, the joint account holder will still be able to access the funds. However, it’s still important to notify the bank so they can update their records and cancel any bank cards that were in the name of the deceased.

What happens to personal loans?

If the deceased person had a personal loan, what happens to the loan depends on whose name the loan was in. The first step is to locate the signed loan agreement to confirm the details and whether there was a co-signer. If you’re the executor, you can also contact the lender for details. If the debts were solely in the name of the deceased, they’ll be repaid from the estate. If there are no remaining assets, the debt will likely be written off.

What happens to student loans?

If a person dies with a student loan that wasn’t paid off, the debt can be cancelled. You just have to notify the student loan company (SLC) with one of the following documents as proof of death:

  • original Death Certificate 
  • original coroner’s interim certificate
  • copy of coroner’s certificate stamped the coroner
  • copy of a foreign Death Certificate.

What happens to mortgages?

When a person dies with a mortgage still owing, there are several possible situations. If the deceased had mortgage life insurance, the insurance will be used to pay the remainder of the mortgage. However, if there is no such insurance, a sole mortgage will have to be repaid by the estate. In some cases, this may require that the property be sold.

In the case of a joint mortgage, there are several different possibilities. For joint tenants, the responsibility for the mortgage passes to the joint owner. For tenants in common where the deceased could name a beneficiary to their share of the property, that person could choose to continue paying a mortgage to avoid selling the property.

What happens to utility bills?

If the utilities are in the name of the deceased, the utility company will close the account and issue a final bill, which is usually paid by the estate. In the event that the house is being sold, you would also arrange a date for the utility to be terminated.

However, if someone is inheriting and moving into the property or if there’s already someone living at the address who intends to remain, the service could continue under a new name. It’s important to notify the utility provider to discuss the options with them.

What's next?

If you need help handling expenses following a death, Barclaycard can help make things easier.

How Barclaycard can help make things easier

*Calls to 0800 numbers are free from UK land lines and personal mobiles. Otherwise, call charges may apply. Please check with your service provider. Calls may be monitored or recorded in order to maintain high levels of security and quality of service.