DEFINITION of 'Debtor'

A company or individual who owes money. If the debt is in the form of a loan from a financial institution, the debtor is referred to as a borrower. If the debt is in the form of securities, such as bonds, the debtor is referred to as an issuer.


It is not a crime to fail to pay a debt. Except in certain bankruptcy situations, debtors can choose to pay debts in any priority they choose. But if you've failed to pay a debt, you have broken a contract or agreement between you and a creditor. Generally, most oral and written agreements for the repayment of consumer debt - debts for personal, family or household purposes secured primarily by a person's residence - are enforceable.

However, most debts for business or commercial purposes must be in writing to be enforceable. If the agreement requires the debtor to pay a certain amount of money, then the creditor does not have to accept a lesser amount. Also, if there was no actual agreement but the creditor has loaned money, performed services or provided the debtor with a product, that debtor must pay the creditor.

  1. Demand Letter

    A letter sent to a debtor requesting payment. A demand letter ...
  2. Creditor

    An entity (person or institution) that extends credit by giving ...
  3. Issuer

    A legal entity that develops, registers and sells securities ...
  4. Debt

    An amount of money borrowed by one party from another. Many corporations/individuals ...
  5. Debt Financing

    When a firm raises money for working capital or capital expenditures ...
  6. Writ Of Seizure And Sale

    An order issued by a court that allows the petitioner (usually ...
Related Articles
  1. Investing Basics

    Will Corporate Debt Drag Your Stock Down?

    Borrowed funds can mean a leg up for companies or the boot for investors. Find out how to tell the difference.
  2. Credit & Loans

    The Importance Of Your Credit Rating

    A great starting point for learning what a credit score is, how it is calculated and why it is so important.
  3. Retirement

    Personal Loans: To Lend Or Not To Lend?

    Attempting to help a loved one with a cash loan can put a strain on your relationship - and your bank account.
  4. Retirement

    Bond Basics Tutorial

    Investing in bonds - What are they, and do they belong in your portfolio?
  5. Investing

    Where the Price is Right for Dividends

    There are two broad schools of thought for equity income investing: The first pays the highest dividend yields and the second focuses on healthy yields.
  6. Financial Advisors

    Ditching High-Yield Bonds for Plain Vanilla Ones

    In a low-rate environment, it's tempting to go for higher yield bonds. However, you might be better off sticking with the plain vanilla ones.
  7. Bonds & Fixed Income

    What is an Indenture?

    An indenture is a legal and binding contract between a bond issuer and the bondholders.
  8. Bonds & Fixed Income

    Credit Default Swaps: An Introduction

    This derivative can help manage portfolio risk, but it isn't a simple vehicle.
  9. Investing

    Understanding High Yield Fund Performance

    For exchange traded fund, not all high-yield ETFs are the same. So, we take a look at one high yield investment in particular to set the stage for you.
  10. Investing

    Is US Inflation Too Low?

    One reason the Fed has delayed its first rate hike: U.S. inflation has been persistently running below the stated 2 % level the central bank seeks to target.
  1. How can I use quantitative analysis to evaluate investment decisions if I don't have ...

    While there are a few legitimate companies advertising that they can consolidate credit card debt, most are illegitimate ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What are the maximum Social Security disability benefits?

    The average Social Security disability benefit amount for a recipient of Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI) in 2 ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. How do I calculate the future value of an annuity?

    When planning for retirement, it is important to have a good idea of how much income you can rely on each year. There are ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. Have hedge funds eroded market opportunities?

    Hedge funds have not eroded market opportunities for longer-term investors. Many investors incorrectly assume they cannot ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. Are high yield bonds a good investment?

    Bonds are rated according to their risk of default by independent credit rating agencies such as Moody's, Standard & ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. What is the relationship between the current yield and risk?

    The general relationship between current yield and risk is that they increase in correlation to one another. A higher current ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Hot Definitions
  1. Turkey

    Slang for an investment that yields disappointing results or turns out worse than expected. Failed business deals, securities ...
  2. Barefoot Pilgrim

    A slang term for an unsophisticated investor who loses all of his or her wealth by trading equities in the stock market. ...
  3. Quick Ratio

    The quick ratio is an indicator of a company’s short-term liquidity. The quick ratio measures a company’s ability to meet ...
  4. Black Tuesday

    October 29, 1929, when the DJIA fell 12% - one of the largest one-day drops in stock market history. More than 16 million ...
  5. Black Monday

    October 19, 1987, when the Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA) lost almost 22% in a single day. That event marked the beginning ...
  6. Monetary Policy

    Monetary policy is the actions of a central bank, currency board or other regulatory committee that determine the size and ...
Trading Center