Dealing With Debts Of A Deceased Bankrupt

Navigating the Complexities of a Deceased Bankrupt’s Debts

The loss of a loved one can be an emotionally taxing ordeal, and dealing with their financial liabilities, especially if they had filed for bankruptcy, can add to the confusion and distress. This article aims to demystify the process of Dealing With Debts Of A Deceased Bankrupt, providing guidance and clarity on what happens to the debt, how it affects the deceased’s estate, and the implications for surviving family members, including the implications of joint bankruptcy.

The Scope of Bankruptcy on Death

Contrary to common belief, a person’s bankruptcy does not cease upon death. The debts remain intact until a formal discharge from bankruptcy is granted. It’s crucial to note that these debts do not transfer to the deceased’s survivors or heirs unless they were jointly held. Individuals are accountable only for the debts they have explicitly agreed to pay.

The Legal Responsibilities of Survivors

The immediate family should seek legal advice upon the death of the person in question. The Trustee handling the bankruptcy ought to be informed of the death and provided with a copy of the Death Certificate.

It’s not uncommon for the deceased’s creditors to expect payments from the survivors or heirs. It’s important to understand that these parties have no legal responsibility to cover these debts. However, the executor of the deceased’s estate is obligated to settle all legitimate bills and liabilities from the estate’s proceeds.

Impact of Life Insurance and CPP Death Benefits

If the deceased had a Life Insurance Policy with no designated beneficiaries, the proceeds go to the Trustee in Bankruptcy. If there are designated beneficiaries, the Trustee has no right to the death benefits.

Similarly, if the deceased was eligible for a Canada Pension Plan (CPP) death benefit, the benefit goes to the Trustee for distribution to the creditors. However, the Trustee is legally obliged to cover reasonable funeral expenses first, typically using the death benefit.

The Case of Consumer Proposals

In instances where the deceased was in the process of a consumer proposal, the proposal remains unaffected as long as payments continue as planned. The executor has the option to complete the proposal if necessary.

Understanding Secured and Unsecured Debts

Secured debts left by the deceased can be repossessed by lenders. Alternatively, if survivors or heirs wish to retain the secured assets, they must enter a new agreement with the lender. For unsecured debts, creditors can claim against the deceased’s estate, but survivors and heirs are not liable.

Role of Wills, Trusts, and Probate

Wills and Trusts are legal instruments that help distribute the deceased’s assets. They do not, however, cover the deceased’s debts. Probate, on the other hand, is a legal process that validates the Will and determines the estate’s executor or administrator and the valid heirs in the absence of a Will.

The Utility of a Trust

A Trust is an effective way to leave assets to heirs as it bypasses the lengthy and expensive probate court settlements. There are two types of trusts: revocable (or living), and irrevocable. A properly set up Trust can protect the assets from creditors.

Probate and Asset Transfer

Probate is not required for transferring certain assets, such as jointly owned property or assets like Life Insurance Policy, RRSPs, RRIFs held in joint names. Probate can, however, simplify situations involving land transfer as it is generally required by the Land Registry to transfer property out of the deceased’s name.


Navigating the financial fallout of a loved one’s death can be overwhelming, especially when bankruptcy is involved. By understanding the process and legal obligations, the burden can be eased. For further guidance on Dealing With Debts Of A Deceased Bankrupt, consider reaching out to experts like Bankruptcy Canada, as each situation is unique and may necessitate a different approach.

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