It is not permissible to settle the debts of an individual with zakat unless he permits it

I want to pay my zakat to one of my neighbors who is unable to settle his debts with his relative. May I settle these debts on his behalf as part of my zakat and then tell him about it afterwards? Or, should I give him zakat and let him choose whether to settle his debts or not? 

All perfect praise be to Allaah, The Lord of the worlds. I testify that there is none worthy of worship except Allaah, and that Muhammad , is His slave and messenger.

There is nothing wrong with paying zakat to this neighbor, as long as he is considered one of its recipients. However, you can not settle his debts on his behalf unless he permits you. The sound choice is to pay him the zakat and then he chooses whether to settle his debts or avail himself with it in another way.

Allaah Knows best.

*Helped by fatwas of islamweb.net