Legal Question in Wills and Trusts in Pennsylvania

My husband was given a no cure cancer diagnosis this week and has one to three months to live. Do we change our mortgage and checking account to remove his name now or after he passes away?

Asked on 11/15/14, 3:53 pm

2 Answers from Attorneys

Miriam Jacobson Retired from practice of law

I'm sorry for his prognosis. It is possible that he will have more time. Seek palliative / hospice care advice. Concentrate on taking care of each other and spending the time you have together now.

You don't have to do anything with the mortgage and bank accounts at this time. If he does not have a will, power of attorney and advance health care directives, he should take care of this at once, while he still has mental capacity to do so.

My best wishes to you.


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Answered on 11/15/14, 5:16 pm

I am sorry for your situation. With joint bank accounts, those usually pass to the survivor automatically. With regard to the mortgage, the issue is who is on the deed to the home? If you and your spouse own as husband and wife, that will automatically pass to you at death. Are you on the mortgage or just your husband? If you are not on the mortgage, do you want to be? What plans have you made for things after your husband passes, whenever that is? Will you be able to afford the home?

I have encountered situations with people who inherited land and were not on the mortgage and then had financial problems years later and could not obtain any help (under HAMP/HARP) or from the housing finance assistance agency because their name was not on the mortgage. This is rare but you and your husband might do well to sit down with an estate planning attorney to review your situation, assets, debts. If your husband is preparing for things then it might make sense now to transfer major assets into your name so that there will be no need for probate. I agree with Attorney Jacobson that your husband should also have a financial and health care power of attorney in place and a living will so that you will be able to make financial and health care decisions for him in the event he reaches the point where he can no longer do so.

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Answered on 11/15/14, 10:12 pm

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