Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Pennsylvania

My husband passed away 5 years ago and I still have a mortgage on my home. I am a senor citizen on a fixed income and am trying to lower my payments, but the mortgage company says I'm not listed on the loan papers. does the property automaticly go to me, and was I responsible for the mortgage payments the last 5 years

Asked on 8/20/13, 11:04 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Kevin Pollock Law Office of Kevin A. Pollock LLC
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It has been very difficult to refinance the last few years as the requirements have gotten quite difficult. If you are on a fixed income, you might not have enough to qualify. I would check with another mortgage company. If you don't qualify, you may want to consider a reverse mortgage.

As far as the deed to the property, if your husband was the only one on the deed, a new one will need to be prepared. However, whether you are entitled to it depends upon whether your husband had a Will. If he didn't have a Will, it can depend upon your family dynamic (i.e. whether your husband was survived by any children or parents). You may want to consult an attorney to prepare a new deed.

Best of luck,

Kevin A. Pollock, J.D., LL.M.

P: (609) 818-1555

Licensed to practice law in Florida, New Jersey, New York and Pennsylvania.

Also, visit my blogs at:


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8/20/13, 12:00 pm
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I agree with Attorney Pollock.

You first need to find out how the land is titled. A quick way to do this is to check online at the register/recorder of deeds in the county where the home is located. If you are not good online, do you have a relative or friend to help? If not, go to the recorder of deeds' office and look it up. Look to see who is the grantee. If there was not a new deed prepared after your husband died then the property should be at least in his name.

Once you find the deed, did you and your husband both own the land as husband and wife or was the land just in your husband's name? It will make a difference.

If you and your husband both owned the land as husband and wife, then the land automatically passed to you as of the moment of death. You would not need a new deed prepared. If the land was solely in your husband's name, things get more complicated. You as a wife would be entitled to a share of the home but it would depend on if your husband had a will and if your husband had any children. If there are children and there is no will leaving the home to you, it means that you share it with the children and there is no way that just you can encumber the home without the childrens' consent.

Assuming that you and your husband owned the land jointly such that it passed to you automatically, the next thing you need to look for at the recorder of deeds is the mortgage. The mortgage papers are filed there. Who is listed in the papers as the borrower? Just your husband or both you and your husband?

From your post, it sounds to me like just your husband was on the mortgage. If that is the case, the home passed to you and if you want to keep the home you keep paying for it. But you are not on the mortgage and because you were not on the mortgage, the mortgage company cannot modify the mortgage. Rather, you would have to apply for a new mortgage from the same or a different lender.

What is the home worth? How much equity is in the home? There are restrictions for getting a reverse mortgage. You have to be at least 62 and have 50% equity in the home. Would it make sense to sell the home and get something more affordable? You need to look at all your options but you first have to figure out ownership of the property and then see who was the borrower.

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8/20/13, 7:46 pm

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