What to do if I live in my late mom’s house and there is a mortgage just in her name?

UPDATED: Mar 18, 2013

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What to do if I live in my late mom’s house and there is a mortgage just in her name?

I am on her bank account because I was paying her bills for her. Her 2 life insurance policies are on my bank account (auto payment) and my sister is the beneficiary on one and I can’t find the other yet. I am on disablity and don’t get enough to pay for the mortgage. I don’t know what to do. She was ill for a long time and I took care of her; I was her health care proxy as well. She had no savings and only a little amount for insurance left for us. She was too old to get insurance. She didn’t do a Will or Trust because she didn’t have the money for a lawyer and didn’t qualify for legal aid. She wanted me to be taken care of.

Asked on March 18, 2013 under Estate Planning, Massachusetts


B.H.F., Member, Texas State Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 9 years ago | Contributor

If the only assets are a joint bank account and two life insurance policies, then you probably don't need to probate your mother's estate.  Life insurance policies follow whoever is designated as a beneficiary on the policy-- not on a will.  What you need to do is notify the company or companies of both policies to let them know that your mother has passed.  If you don't know how to contact the company, go talk to your bank and follow the money.  They can tell you who the money is being sent to and how to contact them.  From there, you can get the claim filed, receive your proceeds of the life insurance policy, and then pay the mortgage on the house.  You do not need an attorney to file your claim.  Every company is a little different, but most will require a certified copy of the death certificate.

If neither of you want to keep the house, you may want to simply get with a probate attorney and arrange for a "short sale" of the house to get it off of your hands before it goes into foreclosure.  You may not get a huge amount from the sale, but it will be more than what you would get by simply letting it fall into foreclosure.

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