INDIANAPOLIS — Katrena Karandos can't fathom leaving her Mars Hill home that has been in her family for decades.
"This is home. This is the place I know as home," Karandos said. "My mom and dad both died at the hospital. I would like to die here. This is my home."
In 1962, Karandos says her father, George, bought the home. He owned it up until his 2012 passing. Karandos took over payments for a second mortgage her father took out to take care of some expenses in the years before his death.
Everything was going fine. Karandos has proof that even through two loan servicer changes, she was making payments.
However, this changed in early 2021.
"The mortgage wasn't due yet but they took $247.47. I can tell you exactly how much they took," Karandos said.
Karandos wasn't expecting that automatic withdrawal. At that point, she decided paying with money orders would be best. However, there was a problem.
"They told me they didn't accept my payments and it was shredded in a secure environment."
Karandos received several letters from her loan servicer saying they were not processing the payment because it was less than necessary to halt foreclosure proceedings and the payment was destroyed in a secure shred environment. Karandos continued sending in payments that got rejected, leading to her becoming delinquent on her mortgage loan.
Now, a year and a half after this started, Karandos is staring down a foreclosure auction set to happen on Friday, September 23.
"I'll go down fighting if it takes me to my last breath. These people are not going to win against me," Karandos said.
WRTV spoke to two experts about Karandos' situation: Paul Kraft, a long-time estate planning attorney, and Aaron Schaler, a mortgage broker. They both shared advice that could help people in similar situations.
Karandos still gets mail addressed to her father along with checks written to him or his estate. She has no way to cash them. Along with not having a will, he did not do any estate planning before his passing.
Kraft says estate planning backs up your final wishes with legal documents. He urges people to not wait.
"Estate planning is not just for the elderly. It's also when you have young kids. What if something happens to mom and dad? They need to establish who will be their guardians, the financial affairs and benefits for the kids. Estate planning is something that needs to be done by everybody," Kraft said.
Schaler says if you ever receive notice, as Karandos did, that payments for your mortgage are not being accepted, don't wait to act.
"Call them. I know that sometimes it takes a while to get through but usually, their customer service department will work with you or they'll renegotiate the terms of the loan. You just have to communicate early and often," Schaler said. You also can't be delinquent to take advantage of the help a servicer can provide.
As the day of the auction gets closer, Karandos can't help but feel like she never had a chance against big companies of navigating what was a complicated situation for her. It's a situation that is pushing her out of the only home she says she's ever known
"I'm not ready to go to a nursing home and that's where I'll be if I don't have this home. It's the only place I've got to go."
WRTV spent hours going over documents Karandos provided along with the court records that are publicly available. They show this foreclosure process started in August of 2021 and during that time, there were offers to come to a settlement that ultimately fell through.