Is reverse mortgage a blessing or curse?
Many years ago, my mother-in-law, Faye, and her first husband moved to a community in the Sierra foothills of California.He died, and after a number of years she remarried.
When her second husband died, Faye made a caring and reverse mortgage agreement. She would receive $1,000 a month. In addition to the thousand dollars, approximately $30 for a monthly service fee, $80 for property mortgage insurance, and $600 interest — a total of approximately $1,700 — would be added each month to the amount owed to the mortgage company.
With the $1,000 a month, supplemented by a minimal monthly sum received from a former job, along with a
limited Social Security stipend, there was more than enough to support Faye's household expenses and lifestyle.
When at age 97 Faye died, her daughters put the house up for sale. Within a few weeks there was a buyer. After the sale, and once the reverse mortgage was paid off, it was estimated there would be $20,000 for the heirs. However, an inspection found the septic tank needed to be replaced. The estimated cost was $35,000. The buyers canceled their offer.
The daughters were encouraged by some to walk away and let the reverse mortgage company deal with it, but that option appeared to have some drawbacks. So after consulting an attorney, the process of turning over title to the property is in motion. This could take up to four months or more.
In the meantime, the reverse mortgage folks have arranged for insurance and changed the locks. And, for an unspecified reason, they have had the water turned off. Still, they are demanding that the four daughters maintain the property.
Two daughters live in Oregon, one outside of Boston and the other in Southern California. With summer temperatures nearing 100 degrees, the yard is quickly drying up. The man who had done yardwork was no longer interested. Another person hired estimated it would take two days, and was paid for two, yet "completed" the job in less than one. Still another contact recently has come in and worked for two days at a cost of $400. And, "the beat" goes on.
The question I have for those of us who could find
ourselves in similar circumstances: Are there better
alternatives? Faye was attempting to do what would benefit both her and her daughters. The daughters were never particularly interested in how much money would be left.
The question now is whether the hassle and seemingly unreasonable demands could have been avoided by choosing a different alternative.
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