Q: Am I responsible for my deceased husband’s mortgage debt? My name was not on my spouses mortgage debt when he died. Can the mortgage company hold me responsible for this debt?

A: My condolences on the loss of your spouse. It’s unlikely that the mortgage lender can hold you responsible for your spouse’s debt after his death. Your deceased husband’s estate is responsible for the debt on the house. If his estate has assets to pay off the debt, the estate may have the obligation to settle those debts.

However, if the estate fails to make those payments on his debt after his death and you fail to make the payments on the mortgage to the home, the bank might have the right to foreclose on the house and sell the home to pay off the mortgage debt that is owed.

If you want to keep the house, you will have to continue to make the payments on the mortgage. While you technically would not be responsible for your spouse’s mortgage debt after his death, you would still have a responsibility to keep making those mortgage payments if you want to continue to use and live in the home. You don’t get to keep the house without making the payments on the amount owed on the mortgage.

As long as the payments are made on the mortgage, you should be safe in keeping the home. You won’t be personally responsible for the mortgage debt on the home and your spouse’s debts, but you should make sure that the insurance on the home is current, the real estate taxes are paid promptly, and you make the monthly mortgage payment.

Consult with a real estate or estate attorney for details on your obligations to pay any of his debts after his death.

Learn more about estate planning and paying your spouse’s debt after death