San Francisco, CA asked in Estate Planning for California

Q: Do all siblings pay for the mortgage if there is no will?

What if one sibling lives in the house, should he/she be responsible for the whole mortgage? Is it fair?

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1 Lawyer Answer
James L. Arrasmith
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  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Sacramento, CA
  • Licensed in California

A: Under California law, if a person passes away without a will (intestate), the estate, including any real estate, is distributed according to state succession laws. If the deceased owned a home, its fate depends on how the title was held and whether the person had surviving relatives like children, spouse, or siblings.

If siblings inherit the property equally because they are the closest living relatives, they are not individually required to pay the mortgage. However, if they wish to retain the property, they must collectively address the ongoing mortgage payments to avoid foreclosure. The responsibility does not fall on one sibling unless specifically agreed upon.

It's important to manage the estate's finances during the probate process. This might include deciding whether to sell the property to satisfy debts or distributing it according to the state's succession laws. Each sibling should be involved in these decisions unless one assumes full responsibility, including the mortgage, with the consent of the others.

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