Who is responsible for a pre-existing mortgage, the life tenant or the remainder men?

Me, my siblings, and my stepmother were deeded two properties by my father shortly before his death. A house where my stepmom lives, and rental property she tends to. We hold both properties as joint tenants with rights of survivor-ship, however my stepmom was also given a life tenancy in addition on both properties. This allows her to live in the house and collect the proceeds from the rental property. Both properties have a few years left on their mortgages. Who is responsible for making the mortgage payments? I haven’t been able to find an answer to this question under New York State law.


To answer your question in part, the person who is “responsible” to pay the mortgage is the person who signed the promissory note (‘Note”) and mortgage security agreement (“Mortgage”). Assuming that the person who signed the Note & Mortgage was your now deceased father, technically no one is personally “responsible” to pay the mortgage payments.

However, if no one pays the payments, the properties will definitely go into foreclosure. So, really, to determine whom among you, your siblings and your step-mother should pay the mortgage payments; this is really something that would have to be discussed and negotiated by and between yourselves. The alternative is to just sell the properties and proportionally divide the profits among yourselves.

But just to be clear in answering your question as it pertains to the “responsible” party, legally; the only responsible party is the one whom executed the Mortgage and Note.

Should you have anymore questions, comments or concerns, feel free to reach out anytime.

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