As of last report, the US national debt is $15.9 Trillion dollars. When
I first wrote about the Debt in June of 2008, the national debt was
only 9 Trillion dollars!
So in 4 year's time the Debt has increased almost 77%. All American
citizens are individually carrying a national debt burden of $51,051.20
 up from $30,900 4 years ago. I couldn't imagine 9 million of debt
then. I cannot imagine $16 Trillion even now.
Debt seems to be an American fact of life. For many, paying the monthly
mortgage, second mortgage, credit cards, student loan, or car payments
are here to stay. What are the chances you will have some debt when you're
gone. Actually the debt passes to you estate. But then what happens to
your debt with your estate? Does it go away? Or does it then become the
surviving family's debt? That depends.
In a scene from "It's A Wonderful Life," Frank Capra's
1946 classic with Jimmy Stewart as George Bailey. Mr. Potter, the money-grabbing
evil tycoon of Bedford Falls, mocked George as he summed up George Bailey's
net worth: "You're Worth More Dead Than Alive!" George Bailey
couldn't get Potter's words out of his head:
"You're worth more dead than alive!" because George's life insurance policy was worth more than the debt
he Mr. Potter. In a moment of inebriated haze (after his DUI and crashing
his car), George jumped off the bridge, into icy waters below in seeming
agreement with Potter's twisted logic.
George should have known that his life insurance policy might have a suicide
clause that prevents the payment of insurance if the insured person commits
suicide. Contrary to the fictional account by Capra, death or suicide
does not grant a debt-pass for the decedent. Debts of an estate are complicated
issues with many factors to consider. Sometimes debt of the individual
may be eliminated by death and court order, but the court, by law, must
consider 1) the gross value of the estate assets and debts, 2) the financial
needs and means of the surviving family and children, and 3) the rights
of the creditors of the estate.
Generally, if there are enough assets, monies, properties in the estate
to pay the creditors, then creditors will often have legal right for payment.
In Georgia there are some protections built in to the Probate Code to help
the surviving widow or orphan's handling of estate collection. Sometime's
the protection might "save the family home." These protections
Probate petition are available only 2 years after the death of the family member.
If you believe that debt can never exceed the value of one's life,
then a person can never be worth more dead than alive.
Robert S. Meyring, of Meyring Law Firm offers free 10 minute phone evaluations at 678-217-4369.
The Meyring Law Firm is located 200 feet east of the railroad crossing
on Paces Ferry Road, Atlanta. More information at
 Based on current calculations of national debt/US population or $15,907,138,660,280.97/311,591,917
people = $51,051.20/person.