Personal Finance

Our Family Legal Expert Answers Your Questions


Q. What is the rule of thumb on refinancing real estate if the property is held in a Revocable Trust? --Stewart, CA

A. First of all, congratulations for having your real estate owned in the name of your revocable living trust. This is the best way to make sure that everything will be as easy as possible for your loved ones, if anything happens to you.

When you refinance, the lender may or may not take your real estate out of the name of your Trust. If they do, the important thing is to ensure you sign a new deed transferring the property back into your living trust after the refinance. So long as this is done, you have nothing to worry about. --Alexis

My husband was shot and killed in June 2006. He did not have a will. I have 2 minor childrend ages 13 yrs and 3 yrs. The house I'm presently living in does not have a mortgage but I have it up for sale due to the nature of my husband's death. It has been on the market since June 2007. Can I get some advice on how to manage my bills? --Sherry, NY

A. Sherry, my deepest condolences on the loss of your husband. I know this is a difficult time for you and I congratulate you for reaching out for guidance and asking for help. If your house does not have a mortgage on it and you are having trouble paying the bills, you may want to consider taking out a mortgage now, which you would repay when you sell the house.

Last night you answered the question what happens to debt when you die, it dies with you. What about a home mortgage, do the banks write it off? Our home is part of our Living Trust,anything we should know? --Kathi, OR

A. Unfortunately, Kathi, your home mortgage does not die when you do. At the time of your death, the successor Trustee of your Trust will need to decide whether to keep your house or to sell it. If your Trustee decides to keep the house, your mortgage will either need to be paid off or your Trustee will keep making your monthly payments out of your other assets. If the house is sold, the sale proceeds would pay off the mortgage. Either way though, the debt doesn't disappear. It still needs to be paid back.

Alexis Martin Neely is America's Personal Family Lawyer and the author of the bestselling book "Wear Clean Underwear! A Fast, Fun, Friendly - and Essential - Guide to Legal Planning for Busy Parents". She is also the creator of where parents can name legal guardians for their kids absolutely free. Alexis graduated first in her class from Georgetown law and has been named a top 100 lawyer by Worth Magazine. Most importantly, she is the single mom of two beautiful children.