My mother’s secret lover paid her mortgage. After they break up, she met a con artist on a relationship app for seniors who put his title on the deed

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My mother has been unemployed since 2017 and has to pay social security contributions. Somehow, she “bought” a new house in Georgia in 2018 that I suspected she couldn’t afford. A year later, she confessed to me that it had actually been bought by a family friend with whom she had had a secret love affair for over 30 years.

Mr. Secret is in an unhappy, open marriage and has no intention of getting a divorce. He never moved into the house with my mother, but they had a notarized agreement that said he would pay the mortgage and she would pay the utilities. They also agreed that the deed would be in my mother’s name only, so that his wife or children would not inherit the house in the event of his death.

Their affair ended in 2019 and Mr. Secret asked my mother to move out of the house so he could sell it, but she refused. Since the deed was in her name, he couldn’t vacate it, so he told her he was going to put the house up for auction.

Due to her bad credit rating, my mother was unable to have the mortgage transferred to her name. She made partial payments on the mortgage as best she could, but struggled to do so.

“My mother is still struggling to pay the mortgage. Somehow she managed to get it withdrawn directly from her bank account. ‘

In 2020 she “fell in love” with a new man whom she met through a senior dating app. Within less than a month of meeting New Guy, he paid to update the mortgage and moved into the house with my mother. A few months later he bought the house and had his name on the deed.

Unfortunately, New Guy was found to be an abusive scammer and their relationship ended in less than 6 months when my mother filed an injunction against him. He also stopped paying the mortgage after he moved out, so my mother had to fight again to pay it herself.

Reluctantly, she moved tenants into her extra bedrooms as it was her only way to generate income, but in her opinion that income is still not enough to cover all of her expenses.

My mother is still struggling to pay the mortgage. Somehow she was able to have it withdrawn directly from her bank account, but the monthly amount has increased by a few hundred dollars recently (for unknown reasons) and the new payment amount exceeds what she had previously budgeted (resulting in them narrowly on other bills).

“The mortgage is still entirely in New Guy’s name so she is unable to speak to the lender to make payment arrangements.”

The mortgage is still in New Guy’s name, so she can’t speak to the lender to make payment arrangements. I asked my mom what is stopping New Guy from evicting her since the mortgage is in his name and both names are on the deed.

She said the police told her new guy they couldn’t evict them because an injunction was filed against him (that doesn’t make any sense to me). She also believes that since she paid the mortgage payment herself, she provides additional protection against eviction (I’m not sure that’s right, either).

My mother was looking for a job to increase her income, but was out of luck and turned down my proposals to move to a more affordable apartment or senior living community that was within their means. I have helped her financially for most of my adult life, but I now have my own debts and cannot help her without harming myself.

Do you have any advice on how to advise them? What protection (if any) does she have from being evicted from her home? If New Guy dies, what claims could his children make of this house? If my mother dies what would my responsibility be?

I’m pretty sure she has no will and honestly I don’t want anything to do with the house other than to have her take her things away when she dies.

A very worried child

Dear Very Concerned,

This is an unfortunate series of events.

Each of the three parties – your mother, Mr. Secret, and New Guy – all wanted something. Her mother wanted these men to pay off her mortgage, or at least part of it, and they wanted love, romance, and / or a real estate interest. It has become a toxic situation. Your mother is now struggling to pay a mortgage on a house of which she has only a 50% interest.

There are so many lessons to be learned from this sad story. Don’t buy a home that you can’t afford. And never write someone else’s name on your home deed. Once you have committed this insidious act – unless it was committed under duress or as part of a fraud – there is very little there left to do to undo it.

Your mom’s next course of action depends on what equity, if any, she has in the house. If it’s enough, she could file a property apportionment lawsuit, forcing New Guy to sell the property, provided he doesn’t sign a notice of termination and surrender his right to the house. She should of course consult a real estate lawyer to weigh her options.

“Your mom’s next course of action will depend on what equity, if any, she has in the house.”

If your mother lives in a state with foreclosure, the foreclosure must be done by the court. In out-of-court foreclosure states, where the process is often faster, the only thing the lender can do is notify the owners that they are in default before putting their home up for auction. The process can take months or years, depending on the state.

What if New Guy dies before your mother? It depends on what kind of tenancy you have. If they are listed as “joint tenants” on the deed, they each own 50% and if one of them dies, they can leave your half to a third party. So, yes, if New Guy passed away, his children would get his share unless otherwise stated in his will.

If they have “survivor joint tenancy,” they all have an undivided interest in the house, and if New Guy dies his share will go to the other person listed on the deed, in this case your mother. And vice versa. This can also be used for bank and broker accounts. But their arrangement should be finalized sooner rather than later.

It’s hard to tell what is true and what is fiction in this story. According to your mother’s story, New Guy is sitting back and ready to let his credit suffer. Whether or not your mother’s name is on this house’s deed, I don’t recommend reaching into your own pockets.

This situation is complicated enough with three parties.

You can email The Moneyist with any financial and ethical issues related to the coronavirus at qfottrell@marketwatch.com and follow Quentin Fottrell on Twitter.

Check out Moneyist’s private Facebook Group in which we look for answers to life’s thorniest money problems. Readers write to me with all sorts of dilemmas. Ask your questions, tell me what you want to know more about, or take part in the latest Moneyist columns.

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More from Quentin Fottrell:

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• My mother had my grandfather sign a deed of trust that left two grandchildren millions of dollars and avoided everyone else
• My brother’s soon-to-be ex-wife embezzles money from her business. How do we find hidden accounts?
• “Grandmother died recently and left a seven-figure estate. Needless to say things are getting messy ‘

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