Wells Fargo is trapping elderly widows in a horrific Catch-22 scenario in order to take their homes.
Imagine: Your husband passes away and you fall behind on your mortgage payments. Your income has been drastically reduced, so you seek to renegotiate with the bank. But the bank won’t renegotiate, because your husband’s name is on the mortgage note, and you can’t add your name to the note, because you are not current on your payments. You’re out of work, you’ve just lost your husband, and you’re about to lose your home.
Tell Wells Fargo to stop their predatory practices now and allow widows to renegotiate their mortgages.
Banks allow surviving relatives to take over a mortgage after the original borrower’s death, but most require the mortgage to be up-to-date before it can be tranferred. Since people frequently miss mortgage payments while struggling with lengthy illnesses, it’s not uncommon for borrowers to be behind on their mortgages at the time of their death. Meanwhile, many elderly widows are dealing with rising medical expenses and a sudden loss of income. They need mortgage modifications that would allow them to make lower payments, but banks won’t work with them because their names are not attached to their mortgages. For many widows, this simple bureaucratic rule can mean losing the homes that they have spent a lifetime building.
After dealing with the death of a loved one, the last thing you need is a high-stress, drawn-out battle with your bank as your mortgage eats up dwindling finances. But this nightmare is all too real for elderly women across America. People over 50 are falling into foreclosure faster than any other group, and for a number of demographic and cultural reasons, the burden is falling mainly on women.
There’s nothing stoppings big banks like Wells Fargo from making it easier for widows to avoid foreclosure. In fact, JP Morgan Chase already allows surviving family members to assume a deceased person’s mortgage and apply for a modification at the same time. Wells Fargo will occasionally renegotiate on a case-by-case basis, but it has no similar program. Meanwhile, institutional red tape means that many more women will lose their battle, and with it, their homes. But together, we can pressure Wells Fargo to change its behavior, and save thousands of widows from this awful Catch-22.