Question:  My husband owns his parent’s former home.  He is getting a home equity loan and the closing attorney says I need to attend and sign the mortgage.   My name is not on the deed, so why do I need to sign?

Answer:  Your signature is required on the mortgage only to release any homestead rights to the property.  As a spouse of the owner, you have a legally protected right to reside in the home.  To secure its rights, the lender wants nothing to stand in its way.  This includes you.

Don’t worry, though. By signing the mortgage, you will not inherit the debt.

We often incorrectly say “we are getting a mortgage from the bank.”  In reality, we “get a loan” from the bank and “give a mortgage” back.  Your husband is getting the loan, but both of you are giving the mortgage to the bank.  You are simply subordinating your homestead rights to the lender’s foreclosure rights.

Attorney James Haroutunian practices real estate law, estate planning and business matters in Billerica at 790 Boston Road.  Contact him with questions at 978-671-0711, or email him at

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