Debt After Death

by GettingFreedom on October 9, 2012

Death is typically not a subject I like to talk about frequently.  Or ever, really.  The reality is that we all encounter it, and as will all things in this life–you’ve got to have a plan.  And I don’t mean a plan on how you’re going to pass, that’s just wrong.

Unfortunately, I’ve experienced the loss of both of my parents.  My father passed very unexpectedly back in 2003, and my mom passed last year after a short {hard fought} battle of cancer.  Neither one of them ever thought they would be leaving this Earth so early.  Both were only 56 at the time of their death.

We lived a normal life growing up.  My parents remodeled and built our home and created an environment that all of my friends loved.  Debt was not something we regularly talked about.  We lived rather simply, but I’m sure debt was involved at times, but nothing major.  My dad was a self employed commercial painter, and some years were just plain tough!

Mom was a financially savvy woman and she knew what she was doing.  I vividly remember her teaching us how to be better managers of our allowance.  We were to save 10% {which we put into our savings account weekly}, give 10% and the rest was left to do as we please.  This wasn’t a suggestion, this was a RULE.

Then my dad passed away.

There was no life insurance policy but there was a meager monthly check my mom received as a veterans benefit. It was barely enough for my mom to scrape by on a monthly basis.  But she made do.  Mom was a stay at home wife and hadn’t worked in over 15 years, but she needed a job badly! Her situation simply boiled down to this– She wasn’t a desirable new hire, even though she was one of the hardest workers anyone could have ever employed!

So now what?

Much to my complete and utter surprise she turned to the local bank.  What do they do?  Extend her mortgage and give her cash so she can live.  There is so much I want to say here, but I won’t. :)

Approximately 5 years later, having never been able to find a steady job {although she did find comfort and joy in her volunteering job}, she leaves this Earth for her eternal home.

And here we sit.

There’s no credit card debt.  Or vehicle debt for that matter.  But there’s the mortgage.

Here’s the catch::  The market tanked.  Banks aren’t loaning as much as they used to.  And here we sit with a home that is now worth less than half of what it appraised for just a few years prior.

The commitments of my parents are left unfulfilled and obviously the banks won’t have that.  They want their money!

So here we are, my brother and me.  Pained and stunned that we’re in the middle of parenting teens, tweens, and young children with no parents to turn to, dealing with probate court which has been drug out far too long by an incompetent lawyer, and our parents’ mortgage looming over our head with no money in the estate to cover payments.

Feeling backed into a corner, we’ve scheduled an auction for what remains of our parents’ lives.  While there is a part of me that’s eager to get it all behind me, I’m hurting ever so deeply.  Not only because this is “the end” but for the fact that we, the only heirs to my parents’ estate, will profit nothing and the big banks with over paid executives will pad their pocket.

We’ll survive.

To be Continued…




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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Rebecca October 10, 2012 at 8:07 am

Oh Phoebe I feel your pain! Thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. My dad passed away unexpectedly earlier this year (I was 27 when he died) and I am in a battle with probate right now. My parents were divorced and he rented an apartment so there was no real estate property or debt, but all of his bank and retirement accounts are frozen. I was super grateful to have so much available credit to pay for his funeral – here’s to frugal living! He has quite a chunk of medical bills and the non-stop hounding from folks wanting their money, it’s ridiculous. I cannot even imagine the hounding over a mortgage….Take care of yourself this month and good luck.


GettingFreedom October 10, 2012 at 9:02 am

So sorry for your loss, Rebecca! The loss of a parent is unbelievably painful. I pray you have a smooth probate process! One thing all of this has taught me is to pursue estate planning.

Thankfully at the end of the 6 month time frame that creditors had to stake their claim to the estate, the mortgage was the only one. We really thought there would be medical bills and some of the smaller bills {like electric and such} but there wasn’t.


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