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Britons could find they need insolvency advice, even if they thought their own finances were well in order, according to a recent Co-operative Banking Group survey.

The Co-operative Bank looked into how much debt people are hiding from their partners, and found a total of £41 billion in loans, credit cards, overdrafts and so on that Britons’ boyfriends, girlfriends and spouses have no idea about.

For married couples, that could particularly raise the risk of unexpectedly needing insolvency advice, as any debts accrued by a spouse can be the responsibility of both partners.

“Legally speaking, if a married couple decide to divorce, they have to disclose all of their money and assets as part of the process to the Courts,” says Christina Blacklaws, director of family law at The Co-operative Legal Services.

“Therefore any hidden cash should not remain secret, and there can be severe consequences should these not be made known.”

She adds that problems can also arise if one half of a happily married couple dies with hidden debts, as they can be passed on to the surviving individual, or claimed against the estate.