If a newly married couple reside in a home owned by only one of them is the other protected in the event of a death of spouse?

My husband and I were recently married. I moved into his home. Now that we are
married and we have combined finances, am I protected in the event of a death?
Will I still be entitled to the home if my name isn’t on the mortgage?

Asked on October 17, 2017 under Family Law, Texas


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

If he does not have a will specifically leaving the home to another, you will inherit (i.e. you inherit the home as spouse if there is no will to the contrary; or would inherit if willed to you).
However, if you are not on the mortgage, then when he--the sole person on the mortgage--passes away, the mortgage then comes due immediately; the entire then-remaining balance would have to be paid. If the mortgage is not paid--either in "cash", such as by yourself or the estate using money in the bank, liquidating securities to pay the mortgage, etc., or by you replacing it with a new mortgage in your name--then the bank can foreclose on it even though you would inherit: regardless of who owns or inherits, the mortgage must be paid. So to really be protected, one or all of the following must be done:
1) There must be enough life insurance on your husband to pay the mortgage in full if he passes unexpectedly;
2) Or there must be sufficient liquid asset (e.g. money) to pay the mortgage; or
3) The current mortgage should be refinanced so that both of you are on it--that way, if he passes, one of the mortgagors (you) are still alive while you'd still have to make the monthly payments, you would not have to pay it off at once.

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