What Happens to Me When My Mother Passes Away With Debt?

Written by Steve Rhode


Dear Steve,

My elderly mother and I are both named on our mortgage.($80,000) She owns the car. She has about $25,000 in credit card debt and $2,000 for a personal. loan.

I would like to know what happens to me when my mother passes away leaving a large amount of credit card debt and a mortgage. I am also named as a joint owner of the mortgage. I have no assets.



Dear Gregory,

You should verify if you are a joint owner of the property and also a co-borrower on the mortgage. You can be on one and not the other. It’s an important technicality.

So much of this stuff is determined by little differences in state laws but in general, if your mother were to pass away, hopefully, she has a will. As the executor of the estate, you would be required to continue to make the payments on the mortgage until the will was processed through probate.

Probate is a process where the assets and liabilities of the deceased person are dealt with.

Depending on the terms of the mortgage, even if you are not a co-borrower, you may still be able to assume the mortgage. Otherwise, you’d have to sell the property to pay off the mortgage or get a new loan to pay off the old mortgage.

The credit card debt and unsecured personal loans would not be able to go further than the estate to attempt to recover some or all of what is owed on it.

The bottom line here is you need to prepare now for what your income situation would be when your mother passes. Would you be able to afford the mortgage or qualify for a new mortgage based on your income?

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About the author

Steve Rhode

Steve Rhode is the Get Out of Debt Guy and has been helping good people with bad debt problems since 1994. You can learn more about Steve, here.

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