Home equity line of credittaken out by deceased joint owner

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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Home equity line of credittaken out by deceased joint owner

My mother and I were joint owners upon survivorship on her home. When alive she took out a home equity line of credit. Once she passed I became sole owner. Am I liable for her home equity line?

Asked on June 23, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Michigan


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 4 years ago | Contributor

If you did not co-sign or guaranty the line of credit, you are not personally responsible: that is, you do not have to pay the loan/line off out of pocket. BUT if the HELOC is not paid, the lender can foreclose on the property--so they can't make you personally pay, but they can foreclose. Her death does not take away their right to foreclose if not paid.  If the property is valuable enough to you, either economically or emotionally/sentimentally, that you are willing to pay the remaining balance on the HELOC, you will have to do so (either paying it in cash, or paying it off with a new HELOC you take out) if you want to keep the property; if you don't care about the property, you can refuse to pay, let them foreclosue, and will not owe anything--all they can do is take the property.

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