I am administering an estate and there is still money owed on the decedent’s mortgage. What should I do?

Before you can know what you should do you are going to have to gather more facts. You know that the estate has an obligation to the bank or other institution that had lent the decedent money for the mortgage. What you don’t know yet is whether the estate has the funds to satisfy the mortgage.

The First Questions You Need Answered

Before you go any further, it is important to find out:

  • Whether there was a co-signor on the mortgage. The co-signor may still have the legal responsibility to satisfy the debt.
  • Whether there is a debtor (or debtors) with higher priority pursuant to California law. They may need to be paid first.
  • Whether there are sufficient assets in the estate to satisfy the debt. Otherwise, the mortgage may not be able to be paid in full.

Regardless of how pushy the creditor is, it is important that you do not pay off the debt until you are ordered to do so by the probate court.

Do You Still Have Questions?

Estates that have multiple creditors can be complicated to administer. The most important thing that you can do is to make sure that you follow the letter of California law and fulfill your obligations as administrator.

If you have questions it is important for you to get answers before you take any action. Consult with the court or with an attorney so that you can be confident that you are making the right decisions for the estate and so that you can be sure that you are not creating future problems for yourself or for the estate.


James F. Roberts
Founder and owner of the Law Office of James F. Roberts and Associates, a premiere estate planning law firm