So, let's say I rack up unsecured debts of £100k and died leaving £1k in savings but a property worth £200k then they can only take the savings and the remaining £99k is wiped out?
Thinking back to 2nd year law school, I think what happens is they go after your estate regardless if the debt is secured against it or not. Your house comprimises a part of your estate (see below!), but so does your Audi, and that stack of cash buried in the back yard, your £50k Rolex, whatever - Anything thats yours and of value.
If something is in joint names, im talking specifically a house here, it depends on what legal form the ownership (tenancy) is - If its joint tenancy then the survivor (the other homeowner) gets the house immediately upon the other's death. Their name is then stricken off the register and the house then belongs to the survivor, and no longer comprises the deceased's estate - Very straightforward and no arguments whatsoever.
If its a tenancy in common, each owner owns a share of the property - Therefore your share is still part of your estate and arguably collectors can go after it - a share is decided based on how much money you put into the house or who pays the mortgage etc.
As for having the debts wiped out, it usually happens if the estate is declared insolvent.
Yes - Ive nothing better to do on my saturday nights.