I co-signed a mortgage for my ex-spouse’s home, but I am not on the deed – what happens if she dies?

UPDATED: Oct 1, 2022

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I co-signed a mortgage for my ex-spouse’s home, but I am not on the deed – what happens if she dies?

As a part of our divorce settlement, I agreed to quitclaim my interest in my ex-spouse’s home, but did not require refinancing of the property. The divorce agreement reads
The parties agree that the mortgage on 101 Pine Street which is in effect at the execution of this agreement will remain as is and the wife will be responsible for the mortgage payments until such time as she chooses to refinance or sell the property.
What happens if my wife dies before the property is sold or refinanced? Am I required to continue paying the mortgage for her heirs? Should she and how would she make the property ownership revert to me upon her death as long as the original mortgage is unpaid?
Thank you

Asked on December 26, 2018 under Real Estate Law, Washington


SJZ, Member, New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 3 years ago | Contributor

1) You are still liable for the mortgage--your contractual obligation to pay (a mortgage is a contract between you and the lender) is unaffected by your divorce. So if she dies, if you don't pay the mortgage, the lender could foreclose or sue you for the money or both. That you are not on the deed any longer is irrelevant--that means you no longer own the home, but does not impact your obligation to pay the mortgage.
2) If the divorce settlement required you to quitclaim to your ex-wife, she can't simply put you back on the deed (i.e. quitclaim half her interest to you), since that would violate the settlement. She can, however, will the house to you: her will can state that if there is still an unpaiud balance on the mortgage, that you will get the house, but that if the mortgage has been paid, it will go to someoene else, for example.

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