Estate planning is essential to preventing your survivors from being foreclosed upon Reply

A recent New York Times article highlighted what could be a potential issue for married couples if tragedy strikes.

According to the Times article, widows over the age of 50 whose husbands were the sole name on the mortgage are losing their homes to foreclosure because they can’t afford the loan anymore or even qualify for a loan modification.  This is mostly because the widows are not listed on the mortgage.

So if both spouses don’t have their name on the mortgage, they should plan ahead to prevent a surviving spouse from losing their home in the event that the other passes away.  According to Amherst attorney Barbara Hawley, this can be done in a number of ways.

Attorney Hawley said that the simplest way is to put both spouses on the mortgage.  If this is not feasible, Hawley suggests a life insurance policy or mortgage insurance be purchased.

“That would protect the non-titled spouse or surviving-titled spouse by paying off the loan after one spouse is gone,” Hawley said.

Other options that could be explored are having a child co-sign a mortgage or obtaining a reverse mortgage.

“All of these options have pros and cons that should be considered when investigating estate planning strategies,” Hawley said.

Hawley advises doing business with smaller local banks when refinancing because they have more personal service than the large national banks.

“In my experience, local lenders are more apt to treat their clients more like than just a number and might be willing to assist them, more than some bigger institution that has no personal relationship with the borrower other than having approved them for the mortgage loan,” she said.

For more information about estate planning, you can contact attorney Barbara Hawley at 413-256-0901.  If you are planning on buying or selling a home in the upper Pioneer Valley, make your first call to Michael Seward at 413-531-7129 or email me at

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