Q: I co-signed on a mortgage and then the borrower passed away. She has kids however, but no will nor estate has been opened. Her kids are fighting over the house. How do I remove myself off the mortgage? What is the process? (Pittsburgh, PA)
A: You are in a tough position. You cannot just remove yourself off the mortgage. You signed a document that holds you liable, now that she is deceased. Your options are to pay the mortgage off or somehow talk the lender in to releasing you, which they will not do unless the heirs want to assume or refinance and get on the mortgage. If the deceased person’s name is on the deed, an estate must be opened to sell that house. It is important that her children find an experienced attorney to help them establish an estate, get the house on the market and sell it as soon as possible. This will greatly benefit you as once the house is sold the mortgage will be paid off and you are off the hook. I would consult with an attorney if I were you.
Q: Parents bought a home in1972 and lived in it 22 years! Me, the oldest son was their caretaker. Parents died, and I probated filed. I have short certificates. What deed do I use to change names? There is a mortgage, I want to refinance.
A: A deed coming from an estate is normally a fiduciary deed. If there is a mortgagee, you need to notify the mortgagee to see if they approve of a new deed. Some mortgage agreements contain a due-on-sale clause which allows the mortgagee to foreclose if there is new deed filed. It may not be wise to change title on the home if you are going to sell it as there might be capital gain. You also have inheritance tax issues to address. The estate may have other creditors beside the mortgagee. You should be doing this through an attorney.
Q: My home is being sold at sheriff sale for back property taxes. How long after the sale do I have to vacate? If no one bids on the property, does the home revert to the school district? Do I own everything in the house beyond personal items (i.e. water heater, electrical fixtures, doors… etc.), can I take these items out of the property before the sale?
A: If someone buys it a Sheriff’s sale, and you are still living in the home, the new owner will have to file an eviction proceeding against you. This will give you some time. A potential buyer may try to buy it for less than taxes owed and the three taxing entities can either accept or reject the offer. If no buyers come through, you can make an offer if you really want the property. You may want to research rentals versus what you will pay the bank. If the house is sold, the house is seized as collateral for the loan and you are not personally liable unless the loan agreement allows the lender to seek a deficiency judgment against you and they are willing to pursue it. You cannot take fixtures from the house-lights, water heater, doors, etc. You can take appliances if you bought them.
Q: I am writing on behalf of my mother. She purchased a house in Georgia with her daughter approximately 8 years ago. Due to her daughter neglecting her health and well- being she came to live with me about 2-3 years ago in Pittsburgh. My mother has a trust that includes her share of the house and I am the trustee. Her daughter was able to refinance the house without my mother’s signature. The mortgage company has sent a notice to the trust, my mother and her daughter for the money. The notice from the attorneys for the mortgage company say the money was distributed in error. My mother nor the trust received any money, but I believe her daughter did and may have purchased a new home with the money. Your guidance on this matter would be greatly appreciated. (Baden, PA)
A: This is somewhat complicated and you need a lawyer in GA. My thought is that if this is a fraudulent transfer, the bank cannot legally foreclose on the house. However, my experience with banks lead me to believe that they will try. Do not do this on your own and try to negotiate with the bank. An attorney needs to review the trust instrument as well as the deed which should be titled in the name of the trust. In addition, your attorney will need to look at all the documents indicating how your mother’s daughter got a loan on a house titled (hopefully and presumably) in the name of a trust. Do not wait to act on this.
Q: Father passed away 2/22/17 (predeceased by our mother who died in 2002). The only assets would be a 2012 Jeep Patriot with $5,000 still owed, and a home with an $18,000 mortgage balance in a depressed area. There was a $7,000 life insurance policy which went entirely to pay for funeral, with three children also paying about $1,000 each towards funeral. Basically, we already know there are more debts than assets, and are hoping to avoid having to pay estate fees, etc., but we are not sure if an attorney is necessary or what we are required to do. (McKeesport, PA)
A: You would need to open an estate if you want to transact his property-sell his house and transfer any other asset in his name. The question you are facing is, is it worth the time and expense to do this, given the fact that it looks at this point to be an insolvent estate? I would need to know more of the details to properly advise you. However, I have advised clients over the years to walk away from situations like this. The home will just go to Sheriff’s sale. There is a chance that the taxing bodies-school and borough especially, could sue for a deficiency judgment in the tax sale. Although it is rare, I have seen that happen. I would gather all your information-statements, bills, the deed, the mortgage documents and consult with a local attorney.
Q: If a cosigner on a mortgage has assumed all financial responsibility due to the joint owner’s default what is the process to get that joint owner off the deed or title? In Pennsylvania. No relation or marriage was involved just an act of good faith. The other party is not agreeable or even available or whereabouts unknown. Concerns around the other party’s debts continuing to mount in the way of liens on property. Intent to keep property but need to remove negligent party’s interests and ownership.
A: If your information is correct, that you are on the deed to real estate with someone else and the someone else will not sign off on a deed, you have a problem. If they are disagreeable, you may need to buy their interest out, or otherwise convince them to sign a new deed from both of you to you. If that is not possible, you will need to file an action for partition for real estate, which is expensive and time consuming. If their whereabouts are unknown, you may be able to serve them by public notice or advertising. You would need to discuss all the details with a lawyer for a more definite answer. Also, you may have a potential problem if the mortgagee (bank/lender) will not agree to taking the other person off the deed. You would need to seek their permission.
Q: I bought a home with my ex fiancé, then we broke up. Her name is on the deed but not the mortgage. I want her name off the deed. We agreed, over text, that I owe her $600 and she would take her name off the deed. I still have the texts. But now she’s saying she doesn’t want to take her name off. What should I do?
A: I have seen situations where one person, even a spouse, is on the deed but not on the mortgage. You have a problem if she will not voluntarily sign a deed to you. If she has any equity in the home, through mortgage payments, or has contributed to the value, as in paying for improvements, you may need to put a number on that and buy her out. If that won’t work, there are two options: a) file a quiet title action in court which is very expensive and time consuming, or b) stop paying the mortgage and have the home foreclosed on. I do not recommend this. It will cause legal proceedings to be initiated against both of you. You can give the lender her contact information and they will harass her as well. You will suffer more harm than she as your credit will take a huge hit, but she may not like being sued. If she gives in and signs, you will be assessed legal fees on top of interest and costs if you are allowed to cure the default on the mortgage.
Q: I am in Chapter 7 bankruptcy. I paid the trustee some money and it is being distributed to my creditors. The case will be open for several more months. In the meantime, I have reached the age of 62 1/2 and I am going to cash out my pension, roll most of it over to a 401K and use the remainder to pay off my mortgage. My mortgage lender has agreed to very reasonable amount of money. Can I go ahead the do this deal while my bankruptcy is still pending? Do I need the court’s permission?
A: Generally, it is not a good idea to withdraw money from your pension to pay off a mortgage, especially while in Chapter 7. u would almost certainly be converting an exempt asset to a non-exempt asset, which may cause significant problems and even loss of property. You should wait and be sure to discuss any such plans with your bankruptcy attorney.
Q: How do I keep my parent’s house if they die? My mother died over three years ago, and tonight I received word from the hospital that my father is not doing well. I know that the house currently has a mortgage on it, and that there is a little over nineteen thousand dollars left on the house. Unfortunately my father doesn’t have life insurance on himself, and the bank removed the GAP insurance he had through them. They did it after he said something about his health issues. I know that my parents would want me to keep the house, and I would like to know what I should do in order to keep it. Should I continue to make payments on the mortgage? If I do does it mean that I’m agreeing to paying all of their bills? I’m also asking because right now the house is my place of residence. I moved in to help with my father, and go to college, and now… To be perfectly honest I’m scared. Some help and information would be wonderful. Thank you.
A: You really need to talk to a lawyer. Ask around, some lawyer will talk to you for no fee or a modest consultation fee if you don’t have money. There are some issues here. If either of your parents received Medicaid, the house could be subject to a claim. However, there is an exception to their claim called “undue hardship” if you were living in the home as their caretaker for 2 years prior to their hospitalization. Don’t make statements to the hospital about your living arrangement until you talk to the attorney. Also, when your last parent dies, you personally do not inherit their debt. Their estate is responsible for their debt. You can keep paying the mortgage but do not sign any document from the bank in which you assume the mortgage. If you are the only heir of the parent, you can probably keep this house by if you can afford it. It will likely require opening an estate and paying inheritance tax. Again, explain all of the details to a probate or elder law attorney.
Q: I have been married only two years. I purchased this townhouse a year ago in my name only. She and I want to make sure she does not inherit it and the mortgage when I die.
A: You need to talk to an estate lawyer. If your spouse is not on the deed, nor on the mortgage, that is a good start. However, she could still inherit from your estate. To avoid this, you can disinherit her from your entire estate in your Last Will and Testament. You can also leave the home specifically to someone else in your will. As a spouse, if she is disinherited from the will, she can file an “election” against the will. If she has no interest in doing so, then it should accomplish what you want. It shouldn’t happen, but when someone inherits from an estate, and there is an unpaid mortgage, I have seen legal counsel for the mortgage company, sue the heir or heirs of the estate when the mortgage was not satisfied. I have had this happen even when the heirs filed a disclaimer against the estate. You should consult with an estate planning attorney and go over all the options. The only way to assure she will not inherit it is by leaving it to someone in your will. If you have no will, she may inherit all or a portion of it under state law. You may just need a will.