Estate planning is not a topic that anybody wants to address, but it’s one that should be addressed. Just as it’s important to create a plan for your possessions should you pass, it’s important to create a plan for your home. Planning for your home in the case of incapacitation or death is the only way to ensure that your property passes to your intended recipient smoothly.

Homes are important financial assets; the value of real estate typically appreciates over time. Passing your home down to loved ones builds generational wealth and helps facilitate long-term housing for future generations. Without proper planning, your home could go into probate after you pass, which is a potentially costly and lengthy procedure for beneficiaries to gain legal ownership of the property.

There are several ways to make a long-term plan for your home in the state of Tennessee. Below, we outline a few of these methods. 

Willing your home.

Wills are a document to help make sure that your property goes to the intended recipient after your death. A will is not legally required for property to pass to your loved ones. But without a will, state laws determine the distribution of an estate's assets, which may not match your intentions for the property. 

Although wills must be confirmed in a probate court before going into effect, having one helps speed up the process and helps prevent the property from becoming fully probate. To will your property in Tennessee, you must create a hard copy of a will, designate the proper witnesses, executors, and beneficiaries, then sign it. Ensuring you designate one beneficiary is important, as your property could pass equally to multiple children without a clear beneficiary, leaving them with tough decisions to make after you pass. Although certain circumstances make wills more complicated, they are generally an accessible way to help make sure your property is passed down to your intended recipients.

Living trusts.

Living trusts are similar to wills in that you create a document to pass the property to an intended person. In the case of living trusts, the document is called a trust document and it significantly decreases the possibility of a property becoming probate. To make a valid trust document you must create it in accordance with state laws, name your intended successor within the document, then properly transfer ownership of your assets (the property) to the trust. 

While Tennessee does not require an attorney to make a living trust, it is beneficial to get professional input because living trusts can be complicated. Additionally, unlike wills, living trusts must be notarized. 

Joint ownership. 

Joint ownership allows a property to pass directly to the surviving owner when the other owner passes. Joint ownership requires proof of paperwork, but the property does not need to pass through probate with this method. 

There are two types of joint ownership in Tennessee: Joint tenancy and tenancy by the entirety. Joint tenancy can be held by non-married or married couples and requires that the pair each have equal ownership of the property in life. Tenancy by the entirety is for married couples only and recognizes the couple as a singular unit. 

Although joint tenancy is an effective way to avoid probate, it does require that you gift half of your legal rights on the property to another person if you are the sole owner. Therefore, it is important that the joint ownership is in a trusted individual’s name. 

Navigating heirship and planning for your estate can feel overwhelming but preparing in advance can help make sure that your loved ones and your home are taken care of. For more information on property ownership in general, check out our blogs or attend one of our homebuyer education courses

At its most basic definition, foreclosure is a legal process that allows lenders to recover the amount owed on a defaulted loan by taking ownership of and selling the mortgaged property. When a borrower signs a mortgage loan agreement, they’re giving the lender the right to foreclose the home should they fail to uphold the terms of the mortgage document, such as missing multiple mortgage payments. Although staying on top of mortgage payments is important, unexpected loss of income can make it difficult to avoid foreclosure.

 

Due to complications of COVID-19, many Americans have experienced this unexpected loss of income, and have also had continued difficulty finding another job. In response to this, the government issued an order to halt all evictions. The halt initially started in September 2020 and was extended to end in July of this year, but President Biden recently proposed an extension specifically for the areas in which transmission was rapidly increasing. However, the Supreme Court denied the moratorium extension on August 26 and announced that evictions would resume, even in the areas with soaring rates of virus transmission. So, what does that mean for homeowners?

 

What’s the difference?

The first thing that homeowners need to understand is the difference between the current CDC guidance on evictions and the Supreme Court decision. The initial eviction moratorium issued by the CDC was backed by a presidential order that made it legally binding. The same order was extended to July 2021 through congressional voting. However, the CDC’s most recent moratorium acts simply as a suggestion, because, while the CDC does have some legal authority, they do not have the power to extend the eviction moratorium without congressional, presidential, or Supreme Court approval. 

 

What does this mean for foreclosure?

The second thing that homeowners need to understand is what the recent Supreme Court decision means for foreclosure. In the initial eviction moratorium, qualifying homeowners were protected from foreclosure to a certain extent. Although this protection has now ended, several federal agencies such as the HUD, USDA and VA announced additional measures to help qualifying individuals pay their mortgage, thus avoiding foreclosure. The end dates of these protections vary by agency. However, the federal government has also allocated nearly $10 billion to the Homeowner Assistance Fund, which provides states with funding to help homeowners catch up on overdue payments to avoid foreclosure. Most states, including Tennessee, will start accepting applications for these funds in the fall of 2021. 

  

What now?

United Housing understands that waiting for state and federal aid may not be an option for people who are close to foreclosure. If foreclosure is inevitable, it’s important to seek help as soon as possible to minimize any consequences. You can contact your lender or local organizations like United Housing to find out about mortgage assistance options. In fact, most mortgage lenders want to help you avoid complete foreclosure, and are often willing to give you options even after multiple missed payments. United Housing also offers COVID-19 mortgage assistance for qualifying individuals. This program is a great way to prevent foreclosure while awaiting state or federal funds. 

 

If you or a loved one is experiencing foreclosure, United Housing is here to help. UHI offers several options to either prevent foreclosure from happening, or getting you through it when it does. From our homebuyer education courses that address important topics like credit and foreclosure, to our post purchase educational class that teaches mortgage budgeting, we also offer access to HUD-certified counselors that can address your specific situations. To learn more about United Housing’s resources, call us today at (901) 272-1122.

Politics, religion and money – three things we are told to avoid in conversation with others. While the rules surrounding the first two have begun to relax, discussing money is still considered taboo. And, this sense of taboo only increases when discussing women’s financial health.

 

Especially for women, understanding your finances – where your money goes and how to get the most out of it – is essential. Women are more likely to experience gender-based pay discrimination, lower wages and societal pressures that affects their earnings. Women are also more likely to have lower levels of financial knowledge, which can negatively affect their ability to achieve financial freedom and success. United Housing is committed to identifying these unique challenges and helping women overcome them, starting with affordable housing. 

 

Housing is a basic human need, and therefore a vital part of any budget. As an essential expense, housing has the power to significantly impact one’s financial freedom and quality of life. Unfortunately in most cities, housing options within people’s budgets are often unavailable. In fact, 7.2 million more affordable housing units are needed in the U.S. to meet the needs of low-income families. This lack of affordable housing causes people to stay in living arrangements that don’t work for their family, or to overextend themselves and their budgets to pay for a place to live that does meet their needs. Studies show that there is no state or county where a renter working full-time at minimum wage can afford a two-bedroom apartment. 

 

In addition to an overall lack of affordable housing units in the U.S., women often face unique circumstances that make the search even more difficult. In comparison to men, women are more likely to live as single parents, making it challenging to find housing that is large enough to accommodate children while still staying within budget. This also renders many single moms unable to live safely and comfortably in traditionally affordable spaces, like studio apartments. Along with being more likely to have children, women are also more likely to be victims of assault. That means they must take area safety into consideration when looking for housing. Meaning, housing within their budget may be available, but they are less likely to purchase or rent if it offers inadequate protection or is located in an unsafe area.

 

United Housing is here to help women, and all Memphians, overcome housing inequality and reach financial independence. Through our Homebuyer Education Courses and housing counseling, we work to provide our clients with the necessary tools and knowledge to gain or maintain financial wellness. If you want to work toward financial wellness or learn more about our work toward affordable housing for all Memphians, give us a call at 901-272-1122 today.

Most people hear “mortgage assistance” and think of individuals trying to keep their homes. However, many individuals still need help after falling behind on mortgage payments, regardless of proximity to foreclosure. Although they may not be in jeopardy of losing their home just yet, the inability to stay up on mortgage payments makes it impossible to move and can render them unable to reach life milestones, make exciting new changes or invest in their futures.

 

Relocation

If someone is looking to relocate, they won’t be able to sell their home without covering the losses. That can make buying their next home more challenging. Relocation isn’t just something people do frivolously or when they’re looking for a change. It can be a major factor in the trajectory of a person’s life. For example, you might want to take a job opportunity that requires you to find a new place to live, or you could even be looking for a safer neighborhood. Whatever the reason, you should be able to do so without the financial burden of late mortgage payments. 

 

Downsize or expand

Over time, a home can sometimes become too small or too big! If you have a family that’s growing in size or a roommate that’s moving out, you might be looking to move to a space that better fits your needs. Whether you’re planning for the future or adapting to new circumstances, mortgage payments shouldn’t hold you back.

 

Gain capital 

Another reason individuals may be looking to move is a need for additional capital. When you purchased your home, you made a significant investment. If you were to sell it, there’s a possibility you may make more than you initially paid for it. This extra capital could go toward your savings or even a down payment on a new place to live. But once again, you can’t sell your home for additional capital if you’ve fallen behind on paying your mortgage.


While the inability to stay up on mortgage payments can make dreams of moving or changing seem impossible, United Housing is here to help. Through our COVID-19 Mortgage Relief Program, we’re helping people like you keep your home, relocate, downsize or to sell. To learn more or to see if you qualify for mortgage assistance, click here. And if you’d like to hear more about the other homebuyer resources we offer, visit our website today.

Over the last year, grant programs and funding options have become available to nonprofits to help us alleviate our clients’ burdens caused by COVID-19. UHI secured varied funding to provide emergency support to our clients and maintain housing stability in Memphis. One avenue of CARES support came through our Home Repair Loan program. Read stories from UHI clients about the impact this program had on their lives:

Senior UHI client, Joyce, found herself in need of major home repairs. Not only did her foundation need to be stabilized, but most of her plumbing had to be repaired or replaced. As a former real estate agent, Joyce had a lot of experience in financing home repairs, and was familiar with many programs like UHI’s Home Repair Loan program. However, her experience was like none she had ever had before:

“In over 50 years of working with the public, I have never had the type of help that I received from United Housing,” said Joyce. “It’s a great program, not only for seniors, but for anyone that can qualify.”

Another one of UHI’s Home Repair Loan recipients, Barbara, discovered a wiring issue in her newly purchased home that created a fire hazard. Unable to get the money or loans for repairs, Barbara was left in a dangerous home without options. Luckily, she found UHI and was able to apply for our Home Repair Loan which covered the cost of her essential repairs. 

“I would not be at my current home if not for United Housing,” said Barbara. “Without United Housing, I do not know where I would be.”

UHI client Pam was searching for funds to repair her mother’s house. Pam’s elderly mother uses a walker, which meant she required an accessible bathroom. She also had uneven floors in her kitchen which posed a falling hazard. Pam was able to get in touch with UHI and apply for the Home Repair Loan. Her mother’s newly repaired home has given her self-confidence:

“The home repairs have given my mother back her dignity and pride,” said Pam. “Now, she’s able to do a lot of things for herself.” 

If you’re interested in learning more about our home improvement repair loan, click here. If you or a loved one is in need of home improvement, don’t wait, visit our website and apply today

COVID-19 has created a housing insecurity crisis. Families across the country are struggling with newfound uncertainty and increasing fragility surrounding their living situations. Unfortunately, scammers use crisis situations like these to prey on people’s fears and insecurities. That’s why it’s so important to pay attention to and learn more about housing scams.

Luckily, our friends at NeighborWorks America are partnering with the Wells Fargo Foundation, National Fair Housing Alliance and National Foundation for Credit Counseling to create a public education initiative aimed at helping consumers take action to protect themselves and their homes from scammers. They have already offered helpful tips to identify and avoid scams:

Do not pay anyone who is not your mortgage lender.

If someone contacts you and asks about home payment, do not pay them. The only entities that should be dealing with your mortgage payments are you, your lender and your certified housing counselor if you’re working with one. Additionally, if anyone gets in contact with you to tell you to stop paying your monthly mortgage payments, do not listen to them. Trying to get someone to halt their payments is a sure sign of a scam.

Do not give any personal or financial information to someone you do not know.

A great general rule is to not give any personal information to anyone who is not a licensed professional or personal friend, especially over the phone. That being said, if someone calls requesting information regarding your personal finances or housing situation, do not answer their questions until you can credibly verify who they are. If you cannot, there is no reason to move forward with any further conversation.

Do not listen to promises.

Someone might try to contact you and tell you that they can fix whatever housing insecurity you might be facing. For example, the person might promise to prevent your home being foreclosed on, or might promise to give you money for your next monthly payment. All payment plans should be arranged directly with your mortgage lender and your housing counselor – and neither will EVER promise you they can stop foreclosure or eviction. They will only provide the best options and counseling with the goal of preventing home loss. Promises of “free” money without certified counseling and expert intervention are a sure sign of a scam, as nobody can guarantee you will not be foreclosed upon or evicted. Also, if someone promises to provide a housing-related service for you, such as lawn care, do NOT pay them before the service has been completed, no matter how sincere their “promise” to get it done is.

Find out what your options are

One of the best ways that you can fight against scams is by becoming informed and arming yourself with knowledge as early in the process as possible. Talk to one of United Housing’s HUD-certified housing counselors, or any one of our team members. We want to help you find housing stability and give you real, practical ways to help you with whatever obstacles you may be facing. Regardless of moratorium deadlines, we can help you get on the path to foreclosure prevention now. The earlier you start the process, the better. Visit https://www.uhinc.org/education/foreclosure-counseling to get started with one of our counselors.

If you are suspicious that someone has tried to scam you or a neighbor, whether they were successful or not, please report the situation to the appropriate authorities such as the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) or the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. For more resources on stopping scams, visit https://www.stophomescams.org/.

If you’re facing foreclosure in Memphis because of hardships caused by COVID-19, there is help out there for you. By connecting with United Housing, you’ve come to the right place. 

No one expects you to know what to do on your own when you’re facing foreclosure. Our team of educated housing counselors can help you better understand the options you have that could help you keep your house. They will also walk you through the process – you do not have to go through this alone. You can start the housing counseling process by filling out this online form. If you’re facing foreclosure, we encourage you to sign up as soon as possible.

Before you start housing counseling, there are a few things you can do on your own. By taking these steps, you’re gathering information that will help your housing counselor and could help you keep your home. 

To help you create a plan, our housing counselors need to know who owns your loan. If you’re not sure, you can use this free online tool to find out. Why is this important? Different lenders handle foreclosure support differently. Knowing who owns your loan will help us create the best repayment plan for your family.

Government support can be confusing, especially when it comes to homeownership. Even if you read or watch the news and try to keep up with the most recent changes, it’s easy to misunderstand what help is available. This online tool from Freddie Mac explains important topics you should understand before you attend your counseling session: forbearance and CARES Act support. Read through this guide and click on the “+” icons to expand specific topics. Reading through this page a few times can help you better understand these topics and how they apply to your situation.

  • Prepare questions for your counselor.

You don’t have to come to your housing counseling session knowing everything about the CARES Act and forbearance. But reading about these topics ahead of time can help you prepare questions. As you read through the interactive online guide from Freddie Mac, write down questions for your housing counselor. They will be able to answer your questions and explain topics in more detail.

  • Continue to follow United Housing for more help.

United Housing is here to help. When you follow us on Facebook, you can learn about upcoming workshops or classes from United Housing and other trustworthy organizations in Memphis. These classes and workshops are a great way to learn more about housing, homeownership and specific topics like foreclosure. 


If you live in Memphis and need help to keep your home, reach out to United Housing today. You can visit our website or call 901-272-1122.

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P: +1 901.272.1122

2750 Colony Park Drive
Memphis, TN 38118

 

Hours:

Monday-Thursday – 8:00am to 4:30pm
Friday – 8:00am to 3:30pm
Saturday-Sunday - Closed

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