The debt charity Consumer Credit Counselling Service (CCCS) says it has seen a substantial rise in calls to its helpline from people struggling to deal with debts after a bereavement.
Most of these calls are from people who are dealing with the debts of their recently deceased spouse or partner. CCCS says that this is particularly serious when they are jointly liable for the debt and will have to repay all of the remaining sum themselves.
CCCS has also seen an increase in calls from people whose parents have died. People have reported receiving calls from creditors eager for payment, even before the estate has been put in order.
CCCS is warning people to ensure that they and those close to them are prepared for what would happen to their debts when one of them dies. It is extremely important that people fully understand the implications of any credit agreements that they have entered into where they are jointly liable. "Bereavement is difficult enough but finding that you have to deal with debt makes it that much harder," says Laura Carver, the head of helpline at CCCS. "This is particularly so for those who have lost a partner or spouse whose income has been used to maintain debt payments.
"It is not easy to think straight at such times, but try to remember to contact your creditors about your changed circumstances as most will be sympathetic."