Money Advice, Debt Advice & Debt Help
Can I be Responsible for Someone Else’s Debt?

Can I be Responsible for Someone Else’s Debt?

Can I be Responsible for Someone Else’s Debt?

In normal circumstances you are not responsible for someone else’s debt if they do not pay. This is the case even if you are married.

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Are you Responsible for a Spouse or Partner’s Debt?

In general you cannot be forced to pay someone else’s debt. Legally debts are only owed by the individual who borrowed the money.

As such if your spouse, partner or anyone else you know does not pay a debt they owe you are not liable for it.

This is even the case if you spent the money. For example if you were a second card holder on a credit card. The card company cannot force you to pay if the card account holder does not.

A third party is not normally legally obliged to pay a debt in someone else’s name.

What if your Partner starts a Debt Management Plan?

If your partner is struggling with debt they might consider using a solution such as a Debt Management Plan or IVA. This would allow them to reduce the payments they make each month.

Even where they do this you have no liability for their debt. Once the Plan is in place the creditors have to accept the reduced payments as agreed. They cannot ask you or anyone else to make up the difference.

Some debt solutions will result in part or all of a debt being written off. In particular an IVA or Bankruptcy. In these circumstances the creditors must accept the situation. They cannot turn to you for the balance.

What if you are Joint Homeowners? 

One of the options open to a creditor to try and enforce the payment of a debt is to apply for a charge against a property. If granted the debt in effect becomes secured.

Usually if such a charge is issued it can only attach itself to the share of the property owned by the person who owes the debt. If the house is subsequently sold it can only be paid from their share of the equity released.

The only time your property could be at risk is if the other joint owner goes bankrupt. In these circumstances the official receiver could force sell the property to release their share of the equity if this cannot be raised in any other way.

Both parties are responsible for a joint mortgage. If one cannot or will not pay the other is liable to maintain the payments.

Joint Debt and Personal Guarantees

More than one person is responsible for a joint debt such as a joint overdraft. In these circumstances both named account holders have equal responsibility for 100% of the balance.

As such if one account holder cannot or will not pay the other will be chased for 100% of the money owed. This is the case even if only one of the account holders spent the money.

If you act as a guarantor for somebody’s loan you are then automatically responsible for paying it if they do not.

Where a friend or family member asks you to be a guarantor for their loan you will have to pay the full balance plus interest if they do not.

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    20 thoughts on “Can I be Responsible for Someone Else’s Debt?

    1. Andrew says:


      Can I pass my debt on to someone else? The thing is I owed talk talk £100 and never got round to paying it… then I got a letter through the door to say they’ve passed it on to someone else…

      Thing is I’m owed money from a bloke so I’ve passed it on to him.. Can I do this like they can?? Many thanks

      1. Hi Andrew

        Any company or individual is quite within their rights to sell on a debt that they are owed. There are a number of debt purchasing companies who buy outstanding debt for a fraction of the money owed. They are then legally allowed to collect on the debt and keep what they get. This situation is in fact quite common and is exactly what Talk Talk seem to have in your case.

        However you cannot pass a debt you owe on to someone else. As discussed in the article above legally no one else can be made responsible for a debt you owe. Even if someone else owes you money you cannot transfer a debt you owe to them. This is not possible and they cannot be forced to pay the debt for you.

        As such the only option is for you to make an arrangement to pay your debt and make alternative arrangements to collect the debt owed to you.

    2. Tanisha Cull says:

      Hi I’m writing on behalf of a relative. She has debt in her name but her husband has put these in her name. He has since died (7year) she is still be chased by these various debt people. Does she legally have to pay even though she has no clue what these are not has she signed anything??

      1. Hi Tanisha

        This is a difficult one. On the face of it as the debts are in your relatives name she is legally responsible for paying them. Has she attempted to speak to the various creditors about this and explain the situation? It may be that there is something that they can do.

        Unfortunately if they stick their heals in I think she will be stuck with having to pay the debt. Having said that we are not solicitors here. If they will not help her then I suggest she gets some legal advice from her local CAB.

    3. Hassan says:

      I have a friend who used my account to rent a car and he totaled the car and the company hired a debt collection agency to collect the debt from me, which is a bit over 15k. The friend is willing to take the debt under his name. Would it be possible to contact the company and transfer the debt to him? I’m only 20 and I’m a full time student with no job.

      1. Hi Hassan

        You should certainly contact the collection agency and see what the options are. However I do not think they will be able to transfer this debt out of your name.

        Having said that if your friend is willing to make the payments there is nothing to stop him doing this on your behalf. He can simply set up a standing order from his account to pay every month. The debt does not have to be in his name for him to do this.

        You can speak to the collection company to agree what the monthly payment should be and go from there.

    4. Matt says:

      Hi, so about a year ago I helped a friend out with paying off his debt, I am currently paying through direct debit. Am I safe to do so. For example will I have people come to my address to seize assets for the outstanding payment because I’m currently paying it off?

      1. Hi Matt

        If you are simply helping a friend to pay their debt you have nothing to worry about. The fact that you are making the payments on their behalf from your bank account does not mean that you have somehow become personally liable.

        If you were to stop paying for any reason the creditor will have to chase your friend for the balance. There is no way they could try and chase you or take any enforcement action against you.

    5. Michelle says:

      My sister is doing an IVA debt management and one of her accounts was with Argos a catalogue company to which I ordered an item but now under her IVA payment plan. My question is am I responsible and held to pay for my item. Its her account and she has many creditors. I’m confused

      1. Hi Michelle

        If you ordered an item from Argos using your sister’s account then legally she is liable to pay for this not you. It is the named account holder who is liable for the expenditure on an account. As such the debt you incurred on her account is included in her IVA and you do not have to pay it.

        Now if you want to help your sister out financially you can repay to her the money you technically owe for the item you ordered. However that is a private matter between you and her.

    6. Leanne says:

      Hi. My partner has been in-prisoned and has outstanding debt. Can I start an IVA in his name and sort it all out for him, or will he need to speak with someone to arrange it all?

      1. Hi Leanne

        In theory it is possible for someone to start an IVA if they are in prison. You can speak to us us here at Beat My Debt on his behalf to arrange this. However there are some things you need to be aware of given the process that has to be undertaken to start an IVA.

        Firstly unless you have a legal power of attorney you cannot sign the necessary documents for your partner. He would need to sign himself. If he has access to e-mail this could be done electronically. Alternatively you would need to take the necessary documents in to him to get his signature.

        Secondly you would need to think about how the payments into his IVA would be funded given he currently has no income. A third party such as yourself would have to commit to paying these on his behalf. If you plan to do this you would need to prove that you have sufficient income yourself to maintain the payments. If you start but then cannot afford to continue the IVA would fail.

        If you are concerned about funding monthly payments then an alternative option to consider would be a full and final settlement IVA. This is where just one single lump sum payment is required rather than payments each month.

    7. Helen Sutton says:

      Hi could you advise me please I am in debt to local council arranged to pay a lump sum thinking lodgers rent would cover it and he gives me notice – and same day I find out I am at risk of redundancy from a job I’ve been in 6 months – if my friend guarantees a loan for me can he be chased for any other debt I have ?

      1. Hi Helen

        If someone guarantees a loan for you their liability starts and stops with that loan only. If you do not pay the loan they are legally obliged to pay it. However they have no liability for any of your other debts.

        One word of caution, if you are considering taking a guarantor loan how will you pay it if you lose your job. I recommend you let your friend know that this could be a risk before they guarantee the loan for you.

    8. Alex says:

      My friend used to live in my house however he has moved out. A letter has arrived for him saying they are going ” taking control” of goods but he has no goods in the house. Can they still take goods?

      1. Hi Alex

        You have nothing to fear. If the person who owes this money has now moved out of your property no further collection activities can be directed at you or the property. I advise you to contact the creditor who sent the letter and confirm to them that this person no longer lives in the property. You can give them a forwarding address if you have one. If you don’t or do not want to get involved you simply say you do not know where he is now.

        This should do it and you should stop receiving correspondence at your address. If they persist you can then threaten to escalate a complaint to the FCA (financial conduct authority) but it is unlikely you will need to do this.

    9. Nikki says:


      I have accumulated too much debt under my mums name for years and now I am in way over my head and I cannot afford it. She let me use her catalogues (very) etc years ago and now the debt has mounted up.

      I have a few other in her name which I have paid for years, out of my bank account but now I simply cannot afford it, along with a loan which she took out for me. This comes out of her account and I transfer her the money each month. She doesn’t know I am struggling. She also gave me a credit card as well which I no longer can afford.

      I know there is no way she would be able to keep up these payments if I can’t pay them. Is there anyway I can get help with this?

      1. Hi Nikki

        Because all the debts are in your Mum’s name it means that legally you are not responsible for paying them, your Mum is. What is more the creditors will not even speak to you about reducing payments. They will only speak to your Mum.

        There are ways this can be dealt with. However first of all you will have to speak to your Mum about it and explain you can no longer afford the payments. Once she knows the issue you can assist her with starting some form of debt management solution in her name which you pay for. One of the easiest ways to do this would be for her to start a Debt Management Plan which you pay.

        If you need more help or advice with this please don’t hesitate to give us a call (0800 077 6180). Its confidential and there is no obligation.

    10. Joe says:

      My wife’s mum died leaving a huge care bill and left no will or estate had nothing at wife is being threatened with court to pay up she is not executor or nothing .and the solicitor said as she is next of kin for emergencies and hospital before she died it’s now her debt .

      1. Hi Joe

        This does not seem correct. Unless your wife gave a personal guarantee that she would cover these costs I can’t see how she can be held responsible for her deceased Mother’s debt. No third party (next of kin or otherwise) can be held responsible for someone else’s debt unless they signed something at some point confirming they would take such responsibility.

        I would strongly urge your wife to get her own legal advise on this and hopefully a solicitor can sort this out for her relatively quickly.

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