What to do if my mother died intestate last year but her home is “under water” and the mortgage has not been paid since she died?

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What to do if my mother died intestate last year but her home is “under water” and the mortgage has not been paid since she died?

I have been sent a certified letter from a collections agency informing me that the house is being foreclosed upon. In the letter they refer to “your house” and “your mortgage.” I have nothing to do with this property. Do I need to reply to this letter, and if so, how? If not, is my credit rating in any danger?

Asked on May 14, 2014 under Estate Planning, Oregon

Answers:

SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 6 years ago | Contributor

If your mother died intestate, then it may well be your house--when somone dies intestate, the property will go to the children, unless there is a surviving spouse. If the property went to you, then your credit rating could be affected by a foreclosure and the bank/lender may be able to sue you for any difference between the value of the home (which is underwater) and the balance due on the loan. On the other hand, if the property has not yet been distributed to you, you could disclaim or refuse it (you can't be forced to inherit), which is probably the best thing to do under the circumstances. The key issue then, is whether the property was transferred to you or not. You should speak with an attorney who does estates work to try to sort out the status of the property and help you disclaim or refuse it, if possible.

 


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