Can the bank force me to refinance or sell my house? Only my...

A fellow caregiver asked...

Can the bank force me to refinance or sell my house? Only my husbands name is on the mortgage loan. I have been paying it since his passing in 2007 without letting them know he is deceased.

Expert Answer

Barbara Repa, a senior editor, is an attorney, a journalist specializing in aging issues, and the author of Your Rights in the Workplace (Nolo), now in its 10th edition.

The bottom line is that the loan company is entitled to enforce the terms of the loan"”and will likely do so doggedly. If the mortgage was in your husband's name alone, you may not be legally liable for the debt"”but the bank may be entitled to foreclose and repossess the home if the underlying mortgage goes unpaid.

Another factor is how the title to the property is held. If you and your husband owned it jointly, as is commonly the case, you may also have inherited the mortgage that goes along with ownership of the property.

The concern that seems to be written between the lines of your question is that it's becoming difficult to keep up with the mortgage payments, which would well make you apprehensive about keeping free and clear ownership of the house and make for a daily disruption of your peace of mind.

These days, help in dealing with such a problem may come from an unlikely source: the government. Consider talking with a housing counselor provided through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development at Additional information for consumers is available through the Federal Trade Commission at