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Name On Mortgage

Mark Cappel
UpdatedMar 1, 2024

Should one or both spouses be on a mortgage? What are the pros and cons of each approach?

We closed on a refinance 2 days ago, so I have one more day to cancel. My question concerns having one spouse's (vs. both) name in the mortgage: I didn’t really want both our names on the mortgage because I didn’t want for both of us to incur the debt obligation. The lender, of course, would love to have as many names to hold liable as possible. So anyway, the loan is in my name and because I’m a generous kind of guy, the deed remains in both our names. There are a few advantages to this approach (I think): - the spouse is removed for the home’s financial obligation, yet retains ownership for legal purposes - fewer obligations for the spouse equates to more credit to make additional purchases (she’d have a *zero* debt to income ratio) - if something unforeseen happens to either of our credit rating (identity theft maybe), the one of us would not bring down the credit of the other - if the case of divorce, having one name on a mortgage would simplify the asset negotiations (having both names in a loan would pretty much require a home sale or refinance to get the mortgage under one person) What are the disadvantages? This part I am afraid I have not really thought out. - if I die, then a refinance would be mandated unless the surviving spouse is able to assume the mortgage (subject to the lender approval) - what are other considerations and disadvantages?

I agree with your analysis of the pros and cons of putting one name on a mortgage. In general, if a couple qualifies for a mortgage with only one person, the couple will have much more flexibility when dealing with unforeseen financial setbacks or divorce. The language I use to express it is this: Make one spouse a financial and credit history life boat. If a couple's financial world is turned upside down one spouse will have a strong credit history to rely on. As you mentioned, if there is a divorce usually one person will want the marital residence. If both names are on the mortgage, there is a 100% chance of a refinance or sale to split the asset. If one name is one the home there is a 50% chance of a refinance.

You asked for other considerations and disadvantages.

1) You mentioned you live in Colorado, which is a common law state regarding marital property. Readers in the 10 community property states may have a more complicated analysis.

2) Consider life insurance for both spouses with a benefit that is greater than the balance of the mortgage. In the event of one spouse's death, the surviving spouse will have cash available to retire the debt completely or pay down a substantial amount of the balance to refinance at a fraction of the property's value.

3) Put the property title in a living trust. Upon the death of a spouse, the property's ownership will pass to the beneficiary without going through the probate process. This can save the surviving spouse a large amount in taxes. However, the tax benefit varies by each situation and state law. Therefore, consult with an attorney experienced in estate planning to discuss putting the property in a trust.

4) Both spouses should get wills or update their wills if their circumstances have changed since their wills were written. Clarify the disposition of the residence if the property is not in a trust.


I agree with your plan to refinance with one spouse on the mortgage. Your work is not complete, however. As I mentioned, consult with an attorney with estate planning experience to put a more complete plan in place for handling your assets.

I hope this information helps you Find. Learn & Save.



Mortgage market update: the latest

It is expected that mortgage rates are subject to change. Homebuyers and those refinancing their mortgages should pay close attention to the latest mortgage rate

Mortgage rates February 21, 2024
According to Freddie Mac, the 30-year mortgage rate for the week of February 21, 2024 stands at 6.9%. This 13 basis points increase from the previous week's rate.
Additionally, Freddie Mac reports that the 15-year mortgage rate for February 21, 2024 is 6.29%, indicating a 17 basis points increase from previous week’s rates.
Note: A basis point is equal to one-hundredth of one percent (0.01%). In numerical terms, if the mortgage rate changes by 20 basis points, it means the rate has changed by 0.20%.

What does the mortgage rate mean for you?
Mortgage rates play a vital role in determining your monthly payment. Let's take a look at the avergage interest rates (APR) for February 25, 2024 based on Zillow data for borrowers with a high credit score (680-740) in the United States:

  • For a 30-year conventional loan, the interest rate is 6.88%.
  • If you opt for a 15-year conventional loan, the interest rate stands at 6.08%.
    Using the rates mentioned above, a $279,082 30-year-year mortgage would result in a monthly payment of $1,834. On the other hand, a 15-year mortgage would require a monthly payment of approximately $2,367.

Experience a smooth mortgage process: Shop around and get pre-approved today!
Shopping around for mortgages and getting pre-approved can make your home-buying or refinancing process easier. Ready to take the plunge? Check Out mortgage rates now for the best options available.