(TNS)—Q: My mother passed away recently, leaving behind a small condo with a reverse mortgage. There is no equity in the property. Do I need to do anything about it? -Linda
A: Most people eventually find themselves in a situation like this, dealing with the hassles of an inherited property.
The ownership of the condo passed to your mother’s heirs at the instant of her death, even though no one has gone through the probate process with the court. If you are your mother’s heir, you definitely need a plan.
As the owner, you are responsible for the property and could be liable for such problems as non-payment of condo dues or a broken pipe that damages a neighbor’s unit.
One solution would be to legally disclaim your interest, which is a simple procedure to have the law ignore your interest in the property—essentially skipping you in favor of the next heir in succession.
However, by doing this you’re just passing the problem along to another family member, and that could create all kinds of unnecessary tension. Instead, try to deed the property to the reverse mortgage lender. Most lenders would welcome the chance to take back the property without having to go through the foreclosure process.
If this idea doesn’t pan out, you may be served with a foreclosure lawsuit by the lender or condo association. You can even help expedite the process by consenting to the lawsuit and allowing the foreclosure sale to happen faster.
You shouldn’t face any monetary liability because you are being sued due to your ownership interest. Still, mistakes can happen, so carefully monitor the proceedings or hire a lawyer to do so.
Gary M. Singer is a Florida attorney and board-certified as an expert in real estate law by the Florida Bar.
©2017 Sun Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.)
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