Columbus, GA asked in Estate Planning and Real Estate Law for Alabama

Q: Am I at risk of losing a house I inherited when I have no insurance in my name and mortgage is not in my name ?

I inherited a house from my husband. I have a deed but I have no insurance on the property nor have I worked on getting financing . It was in his name only and I’d prefer not to get a loan in my name. I’ve been keeping the payments up but since his name isn’t on anything anymore (original deed or property insurance), what are my options? Will I be forced to finance or pay it off ? Will the bank work with me ?

2 Lawyer Answers
Anthony M. Avery
Anthony M. Avery pro label Lawyers, want to be a Justia Connect Pro too? Learn more ›
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Knoxville, TN

A: Consult with a GA attorney. But almost for sure maintaining insurance and taxes on the collateral is mandatory under the terms (which you should read), or foreclosure will result.

James Blount Griffin agrees with this answer

James Blount Griffin
James Blount Griffin
  • Estate Planning Lawyer
  • Madison, AL
  • Licensed in Alabama

A: Your late husband's house is what the lender calls "collateral." Your late husband's insurer calls him the "insured," not you. By keeping up the payments on the mortgage and the insurance, neither the lender nor the insurance will likely pay attention to you for a while. If your house burns down, however, your insurer might deny coverage to you because the coverage has been in the name of a long-deceased person.

Somewhere in the small print of that long insurance policy, it likely says that if the policy holder dies, the heirs or the estate must revise and reestablish the policy within so many days. Likewise, somewhere in the mortgage documents, it is likely written that the borrower or the borrower's heir has a duty to inform the lender of any transfer of title or death of the owner; there is also likely a clause in the mortgage giving the lender the right to foreclose if the borrower- by death, failure to insure properly, failure to maintain properly, code violations, or illegal/risky behaviors- poses a threat to the lender's collateral.

I once had a client who lived in her late father's house. She paid the lender and the insurer, but one day she received notice of cancellation by her insurer because because the home needed to be her name. In that case, we had to open an estate, transfer the house by deed from the client as administrator of her father's estate to herself as heir, and insure the house in her name. Otherwise, her father's mortgage lender would have sent her a notice of foreclosure.

The insurance very likely needs to be in your name, and perhaps the mortgage too.

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