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How to deal with a mortgage after death

How to deal with a mortgage after death

The inescapable truth is that death is a part of the human lifecycle. Moreover, death comes in many forms and at times death occurs when we least expect it. Death affects us in one way or the other and it is particularly more difficult to comprehend when it is the death of a loved one. The aftermath of losing a loved can be equally complex and extremely confusing. One of the things that you will have to deal with preceding the death of a loved one is what happens to an active mortgage. Read on to understand how to deal with a mortgage after death.

What is the probate process?

In most instances, a probate process will follow the death of a loved one. The probate process is a period under which the executor of the deceased’s estate settles any debts the deceased had. In addition, the executor of the estate honours the stipulations of the will with regards to the diving up any assets amongst the beneficiaries. In the event that the will cannot be found amongst the deceased’s items then the executor can check with the deceased’s bank, lawyer or relevant statistics agency.

The legal process

After the deceased’s will has been filed for probate, a legal process ensues. This legal process will include:

  • The immediate family of the deceased can legally request some changes and adjustments to the will. The nature and course of proceedings will be regulated by the local legal acts and laws.
  • Secondly, the spouse or children of the deceased can challenge the terms of the will. This usually occurs when the children or spouse of the deceased are omitted from the will or if they feel their portion of inheritance is not sufficient.
  • Keep in mind that there are various other considerations that will render the terms of the will null and void.

Legal fees and taxes

Needless to say, there are various laws, taxes, and other legal issues that will rely greatly on the location of the proceedings. Moreover, there are several legal fees and taxes that you will need to meet during the probate process. These costs are primarily based on the total value of the deceased’s assets. Before the executor can clear any unpaid debts they have to make deductions for taxes and legal fees.

Debts subject to probate

It is essential to keep in mind that there are some types of debts that are exempt from the probate process. For example, most unsecured credit products consider these debts as losses. After the death of the borrower lenders will find recouping unsecured debts complicated. However, secured debt sources will definitely in line to collect a pay-out.

Death of the sole owner

The executor of the will has to ensure that the deceased’s debts are settled. The same rules apply to any mortgage payments remaining on the deceased’s home.  This essentially means the deceased’s estate will be responsible for settling any outstanding debts including mortgage payments. Some creditors are given priority under the probate process. Mortgage lenders are usually at the top of the priorities list.

Death of a spouse or co-owner

In the event that the property is under a joint mortgage, then property related debts will become the responsibility of the surviving spouse or co-owner. Co-signed debts are also the same. Under such circumstances, the surviving spouse or co-owner can assume sole ownership of the property and assume the mortgage. It is generally advisable to acquire life insurance to aid clear any remaining mortgage payments.


It is advisable for any homeowner to get life insurance to aid their beneficiaries in the event of their passing. Ensure that you seek professional assistance in drafting your will to ensure that it is valid and in compliance with all the requirements.


Teddy Chibanguza

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