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Can I keep the house I inherited through my father's trust?

Santa Clarita, CA |

Hi, my father died a few weeks ago and I live in the house that is in his name. I have been paying the mortgage, and will continue to do so, and when my credit improves, I want to refinance it into my name. However, I am worried that the bank can "call in the loan", which, although I can pay the mortgage, I couldn't qualify for it myself. I am the trustee of the trust, and the property is in the trust. The bank has contacted me because they were notified of his death, and they want a copy of the trust, which I provided. I am really worried that we might lose the house, but I read that there is a federal law that would prevent the bank from calling in the loan, since I am his daughter. Is this true? Do I need a Real Estate Attorney? Thank you so much!

Attorney Answers 4

  1. I think you need a probate attorney. Did your dad die with a will or without a will? Also, if the house is in his name, then it belongs to him, not the trust. If it is only in his name, then it will be subject to the probate process, which requires the collection of all assets and personal property in his estate, and administration according to the terms of his will or California's intestate laws. If the property really is held in a trust, then you will need to make sure you are complying with the terms of the trust as to the disposition of the trust upon death of the settlor. Without knowing anything about the trust or its terms, it is not possible to say whether you are a residual beneficiary with the authority to continue residing int he house or not.

    I would encourage you to contact a probate / estate administration lawyer. Speak to people you know and trust to ask for referrals - do not pick one out of a phone book. Also, there are many good lawyers on this site as well. Try to set up a conf. call or meeting and go with the attorney you feel most comfortable with. Their fees will usually be taken out of the value of the estate.

    Take care and best of luck to you.

    Please note - I am providing you with general comments, not legal advice. Nothing in this answer creates an attorney-client relationship nor constitutes legal advice, as I do not know the facts of your case well enough to be able to guide you, nor am I making any promises about the outcome of your case, or any guarantees about my capabilities, skill level, or predicted success. If you would like to retain me to provide you with legal advice, please contact me and we can discuss the engagement.

  2. I am sorry to hear of your loss. The express terms of the Trust instrument or Declaration of Trust will tell you what you need to do with respect to the Trust assets including the house - whether to immediately sell the house and distribute the proceeds or transfer title to someone. If you are the only beneficiary of the Trust you will have more latitude on deciding when to transfer the property, and no one will force you to sell or transfer title to the property. I am not sure how the bank was notified of your father's death, but this sounds like a reverse mortgage, where death of the borrower would accelerate the loan and cause the lender to demand payment in full. As long as you are making the payments on time, the bank may not be too anxious to foreclose. You should see a trusts/real estate attorney for a consultation.

    Richard A. Rodgers, Esq.
    (805) 230-2525
    200 N. Westlake Blvd. Ste 201
    Westlake Village, CA 91362

    As stated in the AVVO.COM Terms and Conditions of Use, this answer is not intended as legal advice, and no attorney-client relationship or privilige is created by this response.

  3. There is such a law and the bank cannot call the loan. I'd you are the sole heir, contact an attorney to draft the necessary paperwork to transfer title to you.

  4. Because your father's trust/estate includes real property, you will definitely want to start working with a trust and estates attorney on this matter.

    In addition to your concern about the mortgage, there are documents that will need to be recorded with the county in connection with your father's death, and with you being the trustee (if that is not already a part of the county records). And, if the transfer of the property is from father to children or grandchildren, there is additional paperwork that needs to be completed to avoid reassessment of the property for property tax purposes.

    Good luck to you!

    Any answer or other information posted above is general in nature and is not intended, nor should it be construed, as legal advice. This posting does not create an attorney-client relationship between you and the posting attorney, and you are urged to engage a qualified attorney who is licensed to practice in the relevant jurisdiction.

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