January Mortgage Update and what to do when your landlord dies…

Last month (December):
Years left: 1.25
P =$1,143.40, I =$71.00, Escrow =$809.48

This month (January):
Years left: 1.166667
P =$1,147.93, I =$66.47, Escrow =$809.48

One month’s prepayment savings: $0

Bet that headline caught your attention.

It’s a bit surreal and really sad– zie was only middle-aged (and on the young side of middle age!) and the death was sudden and unexpected. I never met the landlord, but both DH and our friend out here had. It didn’t really hit me that the landlord was a real person until I remembered that zie had a 13 year old child. Somehow knowing that a person was loved and will be missed makes death that much more real.

Nobody actually bothered to tell us (either us or the other half of the duplex) about the death. We found out when we asked our neighbors if their rent check had been cashed for the month because ours hadn’t. We also hadn’t gotten responses about a couple of repairs we’d requested. Our neighbors had direct deposit set up so they hadn’t had a problem, but they googled the landlord and found the obituary and memorial service and told us. Then emailed the landlord’s partner with condolences.

Fortunately, Paradise is in a state that protects tenants more than landlords, which means that once the mess of who actually owns the building is figured out (not a lot of middle-aged people are thinking about wills, and this landlord wasn’t the most organized person), they can’t kick us out to sell the place until our lease is up. *Whew.*

According to the internet, we are to write our checks to, “The Estate of XX” instead of to XX until we get official notification otherwise. We should keep copies of the checks we send (because if they don’t get the checks then the new owner can kick us out before the lease is up). But not much else should change for the remainder of our stay.

As for repairs — DH fixed the toilet himself. I don’t know what we’re going to do about the garage door that only opens from the front when it’s warm. (Our kludge is going in the back door and opening it from the inside.) Our neighbors said the landlord was really bad about repairs anyway, but was also really bad at increasing the rent, so they just bought a new dishwasher to replace the one that broke and didn’t mention a thing to the landlord. Hopefully that won’t happen with us because I am not interested in purchasing appliances, even if we can handle toilet innards.

And if you’re ever in the situation in which your landlord dies– check your state laws.  In some states, the new owners can break your lease and kick you out without recompense as soon as ownership changes hands.  Some states will protect you so long as you’re under contract.  Some municipalities may even provide more protection if the new owners aren’t planning on selling or moving in themselves.

Also, even if you’re young, if you have people depending on you, make sure that you have a will.  Sudden and unexpected deaths do happen.

22 Responses to “January Mortgage Update and what to do when your landlord dies…”

  1. Practical Parsimony Says:

    This is something I have never even thought about. But, I have not been a renter since 1967. That was only for one year. I get really antsy when a check is not deposited/cashed.

  2. Leah Says:

    Oh, we do need a will. I don’t even know where to start or how much it might cost. Ugh.

    So sorry about your landlord. How awful :-/

    • Hypatia Cade Says:

      It probably cost about $150 if you use a lawyer. Ask around your friends. There will be someone who has it together and has done all the paperwork. They can recommend a lawyer. It took us two meetings with the lawyer. One to talk about what we wanted. One to sign papers. Totally easy and painless aside from the fact you have to think about your own death.

      My family has that with a lot of death lately. It definitely goes easier on the people who live when the person who died has their affairs in order.

    • Ana Says:

      we paid somewhere around $300—maybe cheaper if we’d shopped around, but were in a rush to complete it when my husband was traveling out of the country and we had two very small kids

    • chacha1 Says:

      I did mine using Willmaker software from Nolo.com, which was something like $30.

    • Jenny F. Scientist Says:

      In some states, an uncomplicated will, trust, and guardian nomination can be legally done by filling out a simple form. WI is one of these states. If you search for your state + legislature+ wills you may find it out.

      We also need to go lawyer our will now that we have another child. Ack.

    • Leah Says:

      Looks like it is VERY easy to write a will in my state (Minnesota). The state attorney general has a really wonderful page laid out about it. I’m going to do some more digging and figure out the asset limits and such. But this is a start. At a minimum, we can do a basic will for free (no lawyers are required in will writing here) and then consult someone this summer when we’ve got more time for writing one out.

  3. First Gen American Says:

    Our garage door used to freeze on really cold days (like -10 cold). We would disconnect the garage door opener and just open/close it manually. I think the root cause had something to do with the spring being too tight/the wrong tension/length. When it’s cold, it’s the metal in the spring is a lot stiffer (if it’s the same root cause of yours that is).

    I’ve had a will forever and once I had kids, I had it redone to include them. I am paranoid about that stuff though because we’ve had a lot of youngish deaths in the family…so I’ve always had life insurance up the ying yang and wills/paperwork done. Although it would be good to have all the passwords of spouse somewhere I could find them.

  4. Catwoman73 Says:

    My husband and I don’t have a will yet- mostly because we couldn’t agree on who would care for our daughter if we were to both pass away. I finally caved, and agreed that his sister was the best choice, despite my personal feelings about her. She is a good mother, she loves my daughter, and my daughter loves her. That’s what counts. Now we just need to get it on paper. It’s been bothering me that we haven’t done it yet, so it is high on the priority list for this year.

    I’m so sorry about your landlord. And during the holiday season- what awful time. My thoughts are with the family.

  5. Leigh Says:

    I’m sorry about your landlord. That is super weird. I’m glad your state has good protection for the tenants and you won’t have to move. What’s the point in renting though if you have to buy new appliances and fix toilets yourself?!

    • Cloud Says:

      A lot of people rent in paradise because the cost of owning is really high. We rented a place not far from the beach in our corner of paradise that had a similar laid back attitude to both repairs and rent increases, and I was happy to pay for the occasional plumber rather than have my rent go up hundreds of dollars every year!

      I’m sorry to hear about your landlord. It is really unsettling when death comes so close, even when you don’t know the person well.

      We got a will (and a family trust) when our first kid was born. That is also when we got life insurance Since we also did the trust, the process wasn’t cheap. But the peace of mind is worth it.

    • chacha1 Says:

      We also would much rather do small repairs ourselves than draw the management company’s attention to us.

  6. Calee Says:

    Careful about only getting a will– if you’re assets are greater than $150K in the state of California (so if you own a house, a couple of cars, etc) your estate will get caught in probate. You’ll need a trust which is a little more complicated, but much, much better for your heirs.
    Thinking about this stuff is no fun, but I’m really glad we took care of it as our big life task in 2015.

    • becca Says:

      NB: the small estate limit, where you won’t get caught up in probate, is hugely variable depending on where you reside. For example, it is $15k in Michigan and $100k in Illinois.

  7. Jane Says:

    A trust is good. You do not need to leave the care and expenditures of money to support your children to the same person who is going to live with them. Also cover power of attorney if you cannot speak for yourself and durable medical power in case the mess isn’t quite catastrophic enough…… AND THEN UPDATE AT LEAST EVERY 10 YEARS OR AFTER ANY MAJOR LIFE CHANGES. REALLY.

  8. Mrs PoP Says:

    Sorry to hear about your landlord. We don’t have wills, but all of our property is held jointly so in the event one dies but the other doesn’t, it’s all clear what is to take place. What is definitely not clear is what is supposed to happen to our properties should we both kick it at the same time. Given that we will both be dead and have no dependents, it’s just never seemed like a priority.

    • Leah Says:

      But what about Kitty Pop?

      j/k — I do think this is easier if you don’t have dependents and don’t really care what happens with your assets if you both die. In MN (as I’ve been reading), there’s a whole chart of who gets your stuff in the event of a death. As long as you even have distant relatives, someone will get the assets here: https://www.ag.state.mn.us/PDF/Consumer/TableofHeirship.pdf

      • Rosa Says:

        I’m in Minnesota too, and the reason we needed documentation for sure is that, with no relatives in-state, kiddo could end up in temporary foster care if something happened to both of us, even if out of state relatives could be here that same day (some are in neighboring states). So we really needed to specify a local friend to be immediate/temporary custody.

  9. CG Says:

    Sorry to hear about this. I cannot help with landlord/legal issues, but we had the same problem you did with our garage door, and it wasn’t hard to adjust the tension on the spring. The problem hasn’t recurred. You might just google the name of the opener company and look for their specific instructions. You can find generic instructions here: http://www.naturalhandyman.com/iip/infgar/infgar1b.html

  10. Revanche Says:

    Oh man, I’m sorry to hear about your LL.

    We’re not quite middle aged yet but we’re in the process of creating our will, a trust, and setting up power of attorney and durable medical power and the whole thing. I can’t stand the idea that if we both die in the next 18-20 years, LB would be at the mercy of whichever relative may be willing to take hir in and use her estate. I didn’t realize that the CA small estate limit was so low (relatively speaking, I wouldn’t have considered $150K low a couple years ago!) but it makes me doubly glad we’re getting our affairs in order and only need updates. It’s going to cost an arm and a leg, though, and I’m not entirely certain I did the best job I could shopping around on that.

  11. MutantSupermodel Says:

    That definitely was quite a headline. Geez that’s pretty crazy

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