When an individual dies, the probate court assumes responsibility for distributing his assets. Married couples, however, often own property under joint tenancy with right to survivorship. Joint tenancy with right to survivorship ensures that the surviving spouse inherits the property even if her husband died without a will. Provided the individual can afford the mortgage payments, she can notify the mortgage lender of her husband's death and continue living in the home. Once notified of her husband's death, the mortgage company will remove the deceased's name from the mortgage loan.
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Things you need
- Death certificate
- Supporting documentation
Contact the mortgage lender. Ask which documents the mortgage lender needs to modify the mortgage and remove your deceased husband's name from the loan. All mortgage companies' policies differ regarding which documentation is necessary. Depending on your mortgage lender, it may mail you a form to fill out requesting that the company modify the names of the mortgage holders on the loan.
Visit your county's vital statistics office. Request a copy of your spouse's death certificate. The vital statistics office charges a nominal fee for each death certificate. This fee varies by county.
Fill out any paperwork your mortgage lender sends you. Make copies of any other documentation the mortgage lender needs to remove your deceased spouse's name from the mortgage.
Write a letter to the lender reiterating your original request. You cannot guarantee that the same individual you spoke with on the telephone will be the one to process your paperwork. Writing a letter explaining your situation ensures that the department receiving your paperwork properly corrects your mortgage loan.
Mail the death certificate, your letter and any other necessary paperwork proving your husband's death to the mortgage lender's office.
Call your mortgage lender after 30 days and ask if the process of removing your deceased spouse's name from your mortgage loan is complete. If so, request written documentation that the loan now exists in your name only. Keep the documentation for your own records and to protect yourself in the even a dispute over the property ever arises.
Tips and warnings
- If you have questions, seek the aid of a licensed attorney in your area.
- Check with your lender to see if your spouse held mortgage life insurance on the property. If he did, his life insurance will pay off the remaining loan balance upon his death. You will then own the home outright, making changing the names of the liable parties on the mortgage unnecessary.
- If you cannot visit the vital statistics office, you can request a copy of your spouse's death certificate by mail. If you choose this route, you must send the vital statistics office a written request for your spouse's death certificate. Include information that helps the office locate the correct death certificate, such as your spouse's full name, address and birth date.
- Removing your spouse's name from the mortgage loan does not automatically remove his name from the mortgage title.
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- Joel Schoenmeyer Attorney at Law: Joint Tenancy -- The Rich Man's Will; Joel Schoenmeyer; April, 2003
- John Leif Fossum; Fossum Law Office LLC; Northfield, Minnesota
- VitalRec.com: Death Records
- Banking Questions.com: Need Change in Mortgage With Spouse's Death?; March, 2009
- AXA Equitable: Life Events -- Death of a Spouse; 2011