Anthony J. Vignier
The following question was recently asked: My spouse passed away. The mortgage is in their name. I have been making the payments on the mortgage. I have been told to put the mortgage in my name. I have not notified the mortgage company because I am afraid there will be complications. My salary will not qualify me for a mortgage on my own. What should I do?

My condolences on your loss. It is difficult to deal with the death of a loved and have to make serious financial decisions on top of that.

There are two issues here that you have to consider. First is a cash flow situation. You need to assess your expenses, income and liquid assets to come up with a sound financial plan that will secure your financial situation. For this part, I strongly recommend that you meet with a Certified Financial Planner who can review your situation and make recommendations.

The second issue is the existing outstanding mortgage. First I have to tell you that the mortgage documents should be reviewed by an attorney for specific advice on what they specify. However, in general, you should know that a lender on the death of a borrower can usually call the loan under a due on sale clause, but, if you are making the mortgage payments the lender is not likely to call the loan. Also as a surviving spouse you do have legal federal protections under the Garn St. Germain Act. This is a 1982 federal law that allows a surviving spouse to keep a mortgage originally obtained by the deceased spouse. There is usually a requirement that you notify the lender of your intention to keep the loan. This notification can be time sensitive so you shouldn’t wait much longer. You should speak with an attorney to consider the best options available to you and if need be contact the lender on your behalf. Because you said that you can’t qualify for a mortgage and being that you may be able to keep the existing mortgage the other consideration will be looking at the current interest rate on the mortgage and making a decision whether to keep it or pay it off. Again, working with your attorney and a Certified Financial Planner will help you make informed decisions.


Anthony J. Vignier, JD, CFP is an attorney and Certified Financial Planner in Kearny, New Jersey. He helps his clients with legal matters, asset and income protection strategies as well as investment guidance. Please call Anthony at (800) 707-5252 or send him a message through our contact form.


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