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Dealing with debts owed to the deceased

What to do about debts owed to the deceased

When someone dies, any money owed to them is counted as part of their 'estate' (everything they own or are owed less anything they owe). It's the responsibility of the executor to collect debts owed to the deceased.

Personal debts owed to the deceased

If the deceased was owed money (for example, for something they sold to someone) and there was an agreement in writing, this may be enforceable by the executor on behalf of the estate. If, however, the arrangement was on a casual basis this may be difficult to prove and it's possible that the debt will not be recoverable.

If you're having difficulty recovering a personal debt owed to a deceased person you should seek independent legal advice.

Business debts owed to the deceased

The legal situation regarding business debts owed to the deceased – including rental and hire purchase agreements - depends on whether the business is a sole proprietorship, a partnership or a company. Sorting out business debts can be complicated, so it's important to get legal advice (see below).

Where to get help and advice

You can get free, independent advice on recovering debts from a number of organisations such as Citizens Advice Scotland) and Age Scotland).

What is the law guide

The Desktop Lawyer law guide aims to present the law to you in a comprehensive yet jargon-free and easy-to-read format. Our law guide is constantly kept up to date with changes in business and family law by our team of in house solicitors, and includes information across all the legal jurisdictions in the UK.

Our law guide is free to use. Where we provide documents related to this area of law, or where they may help you with any legal issue in this area, they will be listed to the right of this message.

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