Following the death of a loved one, family members may be pleasantly surprised to learn that the departed has left them a significant inheritance. For those in Illinois who are struggling financially, any asset gained has the potential to change the direction of their lives. However, one family in another state learned that without legal guidance, estate planning and probate may have unintended results.

A man and his three children inherited a house from the man’s grandmother. The deceased woman had lived in the home for years and had paid off the mortgage, but the house was in considerable disrepair. The family, having fallen on hard times, was delighted to inherit the house of their beloved grandmother. They set to work making the needed repairs, investing time, money and tremendous physical effort to replace plumbing, replaster walls and make other improvements.

However, one day they received a notice from the bank that, as the new owners of the home, they owed $30,000 for a second mortgage the grandmother had taken to repair the house. No one knew the woman had taken the second mortgage, and the bank was demanding a $4,000 lump sum to prevent foreclosure. Devastated at the thought of losing the house they had worked so hard to repair, the family had no choice but to start a GoFundMe account and attempt to raise the money.

Estate planning and probate are often complicated legal matters. This family did not seek legal advice during probate, so they did not realize the possibility that an outstanding mortgage could exist on the house. With the help of an attorney, those in Illinois who are facing probate or other issues related to an estate can obtain advice that may help them avoid similar difficulties.

Source:, “Inherited home comes with $30K mortgage surprise“, John Matarese, July 27, 2017