If I died tomorrow, would my wife inherit the equity in my house as next of kin?

I purchased a home 4 years ago with a 30 year mortgage. I was just married 3 months ago. And, would my wife be allowed to remain in the house, if she continued to make the mortgage payments?

Asked on March 22, 2018 under Estate Planning, Indiana

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 2 years ago | Contributor

1) If you had no children and there is no will, she will inherit it under intestate succession. If you have children (whether with her or with someone else) and no will, she and the children will both inherit interests in or a share of the home--that could result in them forcing the sale of the home so that the equity can be divided among those who inherit. If you have a will, the home goes to whomever you will it to.
2) Legally, she cannot just keep making the mortgage payments, unfortunately: the mortgage comes due when you pass away. If it can't be paid in full, the lender could foreclose--they may choose not to, and may let her keep paying the mortgage, but they'd have the right to foreclose if it is not paid in full. If they foreclose, then she would not be able to keep living there. Only if the balance of the mortgage is paid off could she be sure of being able to keep living in the home. You may wish to buy sufficient life insurance as to pay the mortgage plus your final expenses.


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