Can I, as an heir be liable for my father’s house/mortgage?

UPDATED: Sep 30, 2022

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Can I, as an heir be liable for my father’s house/mortgage?

My father passed away 2 years ago and was upside down in his home. He owed $135,000 on it and at that time the value of the home was approximately $90,000. I notified the mortgage company of his death and provided a death certificate. I told them I was not interested in the home since I have my own. Now I am getting served paperwork that says I a being sued by the mortgage company as his heir. Can they do anything to me?

Asked on March 3, 2017 under Estate Planning, New Mexico


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If you do not inherit the house (e.g. if you turn it down if it would come to you or "disclaim" it) you are not liable for it in any way--it's not your property and you did not (I presume) sign or guaranty the mortgage. That said, if they are foreclosing, they may need to name you in the foreclosure action if you have not yet formally disclaimed the property, since until you do, you, you retain a potential interest in the property, and the law requires that all interested parties be named, to put them on notice of the action and give them the chance to oppose it, if they chose. You may wish to contact the probate or surrogates court about how to officially disclaim any interest in the property.

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