What Is an Insolvent Estate?

By Beverly Bird

It's not unusual for someone to have more debts than assets. If this is the case when you die, your estate is insolvent. Your beneficiaries and heirs generally won't inherit your debts, but the executor or administrator of an insolvent estate must take at least one additional step as part of the probate process.

It's not unusual for someone to have more debts than assets. If this is the case when you die, your estate is insolvent. Your beneficiaries and heirs generally won't inherit your debts, but the executor or administrator of an insolvent estate must take at least one additional step as part of the probate process.

Permission of the Court

Your estate can't file for bankruptcy, but a somewhat similar procedure exists if you die in debt. When your executor ascertains that there's not enough money to pay everyone, she must typically file a petition with the court, alerting the judge. The judge then issues an order, detailing which debts can be paid from your available money and from liquidation of your property.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan

Order of Payment

If you die owing taxes – or any other debt to the federal government – it is paid first. The costs of operating your estate are usually paid next, followed by expenses associated with your burial or final illness. The exact order can vary somewhat from state to state, but generally, your unsecured debts – such as credit cards – are paid last. If the money runs out before these creditors receive payment, they don't get paid. Otherwise, they share whatever is left on a pro rata basis. For example, if there's $10,000 left in your estate, but your debts total $100,000, each creditor would receive 10 cents for each dollar you owe him.

Exceptions to the Rules

If anyone cosigned a debt with you, they become responsible for it when you die. If you live in a community property state, your spouse may be responsible for your debts if you incurred them while you were married. Secured creditors typically receive their collateral back.

Protect your loved ones. Start My Estate Plan
Can an Executor of an Estate File Bankruptcy on Behalf of the Deceased in the State of Iowa?

References

Related articles

State of Georgia Guidelines to Show That a Personal Estate Is Insolvent

Can an Executor of an Estate Spend Any Money From the Estate?

What Percentage of Secured Debt Is Repaid in Chapter 13?

LegalZoom. Legal help is here. Start Here. Wills. Trusts. Attorney help.

Related articles

How to Prove an Estate Is Insolvent in Connecticut

What Is the Purpose of Probate Court?

What Happens When a Claim Is Filed Against a Probated Estate?

What Expenses Can an Executor Take for Estate Tax?

Browse by category
Ready to Begin? GET STARTED