Sunday, December 16, 2012

Can Loan Modification or Refinancing be Offered to the Estate of the Deceased?

Question: My husband is listed on the mortgage of our home only, he passed away a few years ago, the bank will not refinance or let me assume the responsibility for the mortgage. I am on the title, if I let the home go to foreclosure will I be responsible for any tax issues. My home is under water by a substantial amount. I tried refinancing with my current bank and other lenders, but was denied several times as the lenders said that I am not the original borrower on the loan.

Response: Situations like these are very tricky. Your deceased husband signed the contract (note and mortgage) with the bank, therefore, he was the one in privity of contract with the bank. You are not in privity of contract with the bank and you have no rights to sign a new agreement, whether it would be a refinancing or a loan modification. Only the borrower can sign the new contract. So far, I have only witnessed one bank offer a loan modification to the Estate of the Deceased. Generally, that is not the case. Some banks will consider an assumption where you take over the original terms of the loan but you have to show qualifying financials. This does not work if you have no income, i.e., your income has to support the mortgage and any arrears, if applicable. If you want to stay in the house, the best option is to continue making payments as before until the loan is paid off unless you are already in default and can no longer reinstate the mortgage. Finally, if the bank forecloses on the home, you, personally, would not be responsible for the deficiency. However, the bank may go after the estate and in a case like yours, it could affect you similarly. As of recently, many banks have stopped pursuing deficiency judgments because it is very hard to collect that money from people who don't have much to begin with and lost their last assets. Whether they choose to pursue it or not, they do not waive that right.

In the legal blog, Attorney Svetlana Kaplun addresses typical questions our firm has received from our clients, or come across from homeowners related to foreclosure, foreclosure defense, loan modification and bankruptcy topics.

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