Dealing with a loved one's financial struggles can be hard enough when the person is alive. But who's responsible for any debt left behind?
That depends on the particular type of debt, but the answer usually is: Not you.
"I've had clients truly believe they might have to pay their [deceased] parent's debt," said Kathryn Hauer, a certified financial planner with Wilson David Investment Advisors. "But unless you are a co-signor on a loan, you typically are not liable for the debt or have to pay anything out of your pocket."
Comprehensive data on debt held by individuals at death is hard to come by. But according to the Federal Reserve, total U.S. household debt stood at $12.29 trillion in June. And with just 20 percent of Americans carrying no debt, according to a Pew Charitable Trusts 2015 study, it stands to reason that most Americans die owing something (you can download the report here).