My husband recently died at age 54. We have a HELOC with Chase Bank that became due just before his passing which ballooned our payment to 3 and a half times the monthly amount we were paying. I had to resign my position at work to care for him during his illness. His pension was transferred to me for the remainder of my life but it is only about $1500/month. We have money in both of our trust accounts from life insurance and settlements from his illness but I will run out fairly quickly if I don’t try to reduce the HELOC payments. My question is can I negotiate with Chase to reduce the payments or lengthen the HELOC repayment time by using the trust accounts as back up and without being employed. As I’ve been researching this subject, I have read some pretty bad things about Chase so I’m interested in knowing if I should just try to get a loan elsewhere. Thank you for your time and look forward to your answer/opinion.

Terry Says:  Let me ask you a slightly different question:  Why are you staying in this home?  As I read your question, you are now an unemployed widow with a limited amount of funds.  Would you be better off in a different living situation, such as renting an apartment?  I’m going to take a guess that you have  little or no equity in your home.  If you do still have equity (after mortgage and heloc) you could try to sell the home quickly and take any remaining cash.  If you have NO equity, and no real use for such an expensive property, then you might be better off letting the bank (the one with the original mortgage) foreclose.  Then the HELOC lender will be out of luck.

I’m giving this advice on a logic basis, not a legal basis.  So I am going to refer you to the National Foundation for Credit Counseling at 800-388-2227.  Suffering a foreclosure is a serious ding on your credit that will stay on your credit report for 7 years.  But that might be a better alternative than using up all your savings to save a home that you no longer can afford.  If I’m jumping to conclusions here, please do write back and let me know.   It’s tough to make such big financial and lifestyle decisions in the midst of bereavement.   If you would like a personal connection with a credit expert whom I trust, send me an email at Terry@TerrySavage.com.

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