Should I pay off my grandma's house?

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i recently found out my grandma's house that bought in 1965 for $6000 has an unpaid balance of $7000 because my mom has not paid off the second mortgage her and my dad took out on grandma's house in 1990.
according to my grandma's will dated 1989, the house was paid off and was to be left to my dad when she passed but in 1990 my parents asked to mortgage grandma's house to help them purchase a vehicle for their business and they would make mortgage payments and my grandma said yes. in 2003, my dad died which left my mom making grandma's house payments and mom has been struggling financially ever since dad's passing and the house still has not been paid.
i am now my grandma's caretaker and have moved in with her because she is 92yrs old. she is in good health but without me would be alone. i am trying to get my grandma's financial and legal matters organized and prepared and i have made an appointment to update her will but i am thinking should i pay off my grandma's house and have her sign it over to me? because it was already willed to my dad it will be left to my mom and grandma told us "grand kids" the house would be ours when she passes. i feel i have to hide what i am doing from my mom because she has her own plans for grandma's house. but if i'm her caretaker i shouldn't have to hide anything i am doing.

please help!!

Answers 1 to 10 of 31
Top Answer
I'd suggest you review your Grandma's will. If it was prepared by an attorney, it should clearly state that the house goes to your Dad AND what happens if he predeceases her. You also need to check the deed/title. Some states and some ownership arrangements have real estate pass to someone at death by nature of the title.

If your Grandma is of sound mind, she can add to the will (codicil) and state her wishes there so that it is all clear and legal. Does she have other children? Who is the executor? If it was your Dad, who is listed as executor now that he is gone? Just because you are helping her out and living in the house does not mean you will have a legal claim to it when she is gone.

Personally, I wouldn't pay off the mortgage until this is all settled.
Discuss this with a lawyer, preferrably one who specializes in elder law.

What kind of assets/income does your grandma have? Enough to take care of her the rest of her life, even if she goes into a care center or needs significant in-home care? (Please look into these costs if you are not familiar with them.) If GM can support herself no matter what for the next several years, you have more options. If she MIGHT need medicare, then signing the house over to you will backfire, and paying it off may not be best. You really need the help of an experienced elder law attorney. A crystal ball wouldn't hurt, either.

Ethically, would signing the house over to you be consistent with her wishes that the "grandkids" should have the house? How are you planning to share with the others? How is the will being changed?

Hiding this from your mother seems (to me) selfish. It is not like she won't find out when GM dies. Why let her continue to make plans assuming she will get the house? Shouldn't she know the will is being changed?

Lordy, Grandmother may live another five years or more, and already there is conflict over who gets her house. Sad.
thank you for your response. let me first say, paying off the mortgage is something my two sisters and i discussed recently. i informed everyone(except mom) that gma's will needed to be updated because it is her wish the house be sold and split up between us grandkids. i've made an appt with legal aid in hopes they can either give gma advice what to do in this matter or refer her to someone else who can.
i think its wrong for people to judge and comment about how sad it is fighting over gma's house when she isn't even gone yet... i thought this site was to help, support and offer advice to people who are caring for elders, not make them feel worse for putting their family problems in the open.
I'd highly suggest you go to see a certified elder care attorney and not a probono type of legal aid office. There are a lot of issues here besides the 2nd mortgage - probate related to your dad's death (more issues if probate hasn't been done or heaven forbid he died intestate); establishment of lineal heirs - who is the child of your gran? - your late dad or your mom? do you have other aunts & uncles and what is their position on inheritance; the competency of a 92 yr old to do a codicil to her will.

You will have to involve your mom in this at some point. My gut feeling is that this will get ugly.I have to totally agree with Jeanne's view on this.

Whom is the responsible party on the 2nd mortgage? If it's just your gran, then mom isn't legally responsible no matter what verbal agreement was said. If your dad is listed on the 2nd mortgage, then his debt on the 2nd mortgage died when he died in 2003 unless it was included as a debt or discharge of his estate.

Do you have the paperwork (Deed of Trusts) on the home? For both the 1st paid of mortgage and the 2nd mortgage? If not you need to go either in person or on-line to the assessors office to get them. I'd also run a mechanic's lien review on the property just to make sure there isn't something else out there that could cloud the title on the property.

Why the need to pay off the 2nd mortgage - are there foreclosure or other legal issues out there regarding the 2nd that is a current problem? If gran has the $ to pay it off, then she should just go ahead and do it if she's is the legal responsible party. Your paying off the mortgage, unless you have a binding agreement as to the payment being a debt of the legal property owner to you, is nothing but a nice thing to do. If I paid off someone else's debt, I'd have the property served with a lien against it to protect my interest.

You have to be a hard realist about gran being 92. The probability is that at some point her level of caregiving will be such that she needs more than you: she will need to have caregivers paid to help out, how is this to be paid; OR she enters a NH and either the family is going to private pay for it; or sell her assets, including her home to pay for her care; or she can get her financial & medical situation to the point where she qualifies for Medicaid. If she still has a home it will be an exempt asset but subject to MERP - Medicaid Estate Recovery Program - upon her death & none of her $ (like SS) will be available to pay for anything on the house

If you sold your 92 yr old grans house today and she needed to go into a NH anytime before May 17, 2017, then there will be a transfer penalty imposed on all the $ from the sale of the house that was not used for normal living expenses and medical needs. All these issues are super sticky and a good elder care attorney really needs to work with your gran on figuring out what works for her state's law and approach to Medicaid. Good luck.
wow... now i really want to stay out this mess!! the lady i refer to as "grandma" was really my dad's aunt. she raised him since birth and was never able to have children of her own. dad died when he was 53yrs old and as far as i know, he did not have a will.

i do have the deed/title to my gma's house in my "gma file" but the second on the house was a verbal agreement because it's in my gma's name and any mail gma gets regarding her house is sent next door to mom's, without being opened.

the conflict over paying off gma's house started when my brother who lived with gma for 2yrs had a pit bull. after brother moved out, his pit bull stayed. insurance was cancelled because of this dog and the finance company added on its own insurance. my mom says gma should pay half the balance owed because it was "her fault" insurance was taken off. i say mom is wrong because she should have been the one to tell my brother "take your dog or else".

the problem with gma paying off her house herself is she feels she "shouldn't have to" but if she doesn't pay it off herself, who will? she expects my mom to pay it off just like she expects my mom to pay for her funeral? all gma seems to care about is casino....casino.....casino.....

she pays her utilities every month which is under $150 because she has no A/C, she spends a tiny amount of money on groceries and the rest she gambles away at the casino. i don't know what to do about gma's gambling problem but if i don't take her at least once a week to drop her off & let her play a few hours, she will leave the house without telling me & without taking her phone and will ride the bus for 2.5hrs to the casino!

i don't care if my gma wants to go to the casino ONCE a week but she doesn't understand that when she passes SOMEONE will have to pay her final expenses. even if the house is to be paid off by my two sister's and myself, we would have to wait until the house is sold to get our money back and that still leaves gma's funeral expenses.

i know gma needs to see someone who specializes in elder law but if it cost her money to do anything....she'll refuse and say she can't afford it.

as for my mother.... i have mentioned to her several times during the last couple months of needing the paperwork to gma's house but she ignores the question. two weeks ago i got mad at my mom for telling my grandma she needed to start making payments for her own funeral(this was said while i went inside the market & they waited in the car) when the subject of gma's house came up again my mom told me "be careful what you do with gma's house because one day she's going to be gone & you are going to be right back in my house" after that was when i called both my sister's and told them we needed to have a family meeting about gma, her house and updating her will.

and people wonder why i try NOT to tell my mom ANYTHING??

if i haven't mentioned before, my gma is in very good health for being 92. i have put a pad lock on the lawn mower and hid all the step ladders because i don't, she will be using both of them even though i have told her not to. she is not sick, has no medical problems other than high blood pressure and is diabetic and if we were to compete in a walking marathon.....gma would do circles around me!
Sounds like your gran/aunt is the one on the mortgage so she is responsible. If the 2nd mortgage was done through a "finance company" rather than a bank, then it probably is a very predatory, non-consumer friendly loan. Getting it paid off and cancelled and recorded at the assessor's office should be done sooner rather than later. I bet the terms are horrendous.

"She is not sick" .....Diabetes is a major disease with lots of ancillary diseases related to being diabetic. She should be getting a full endocrinology work up each year and probably a retinal specialist every 2 years. At 92, she probably has some dementia - the allowing someone with a liability to live at their home (pittbull) and using step ladders is showing "poor judgement".I bet she also has "problems with abstract thinking" spending $ inappropriately like playing at the casino is a part of this. Both are signs of dementia.

If you transfer the house to you or others, either be prepared to take for her for the next full 5 years or private pay for any future care or pay a transfer penalty to have her on Medicaid at a NH. Remember all of her assets & history of ownership & her income is just keystrokes away from being reviewed if she applies for Medicaid or other benefits.
taking care of gma is new to me...i'm learning about it & often feel overwhelmed because if i had all the time in the world gma would easily take up that time & its frustrating.
over the weekend a nurse came to the house to do an "assessment" for gma's health care plan. after talking to the nurse and gma answering questions i thought my gma did pretty good. today the nurse called me and said it appears my gma is showing signs of early dementia. the step ladders, poor judgement....everything you just mentioned above is all correct and i had no idea.
the nurse suggested because i am gma's caretaker that signing POA needs to be done now. she suggested i start managing gma's finances and take the ATM card away when i take her to the casino and i just sat there listening... thinking...
i love my gma with all my heart. i want her last 5-10yrs to be the best years and i dont want to deal with the arguing that will come from handling her money!!
i told gma before i moved in.....its going to be "gma and sam till the end" and i thought i was capable of taking the job but now i think i'm in over my head.
You are doing a noble thing to take care of your gma, and your heart is certainly in the right place! Very few of us knew what we were getting into when we began caregiving. I was fortunate enough to have advice from a social worker early-on to see an elder law attorney (which I had never even heard of) and take care of POA and other paperwork and apply for Medicaid. In the year it took me to handle all that I cried more over the frustation of dealing with lawyers and insurance companies and application forms than I did over the tragedy of my husband's dementia. Still, I got through it. Caregivers aren't born knowing how to do any of this, and as I say few of us even knew we'd ever have to!

So, don't feel bad if you're in over your head. So were many of us to begin with. Get help. See a lawyer. Talk to a social worker. Don't try to handle everything on your own. You are right that having the POA can be a tough role. With early stage dementia this dear lady needs someone to take action in her own best interest. It is kind of like parents insisting their kids can't eat candy all day and they have to wear their seatbelts and get vacinnations. Taking care of someone isn't just about giving them what they want. It is doing what is best for them, too.

You don't say how old you are, or what your social life is like, or whether you work, etc. No matter what, I hope you stick by your gramma to the end -- Sam and Gram make a fine pair! But give some very careful thought to whether that can be as her primary caregiver. Always be her loving grandson, whatever other roles you may play.

I wish you the very best.
SAMANTHA is 38,single with a 17yr old about to graduate. other then taking care of gma which almost seems like a full time job, i work part time on call towing. as for the truck mom & dad purchased when taking out the 2nd on gma's house. if i remember correctly it was about $60,000 and about a year after dad died a highly upset registered owner set fire to the repo truck.
as for my mom. she is not concerned about paying off gma's house at all. with dad gone, mom now has a new life. asking her for any thing isn't easy even if it has nothing to do with gma and when i told her yesterday what the nurse said about early signs of dementia and gma's appt with legal aid & POA, mom just made her usual face & reminded me of what will happen once i am in charge of gma & her finances.
we(gma & siblings) believe mom's plans for gma's house is to sell it after she passes and use the money to fix her house next door. although she does not live there she let her boyfriend get carried away with remodeling 2yrs ago and it still has not been finished. mom selling gma's house wouldn't be a problem if that was what gma wanted but its not.
according to gma, she wants the house to be sold and money split between the 4 grandkids. and we all agreed that its "whatever gma wants". at the same time, i can't help thinking gma's house is not paid off, i don't own a house myself, if gma is ok and agrees to it, why not pay the house off and put it in my name? my sisters already own their own homes and both said "it doesn't matter if gma leaves them a part of the house or not" the only one who would have a problem is my brother but its expected of him because he & i dont get along and he lives next door in mom's house "rent free"and without a job. asking him to help my gma or my mom with cutting the grass is asking too much.

thank you all for your suggestions & advice. it does help

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