Dear Annie: Seniors who outlive disbursement schedules on reverse mortgages could lose their homes

Dear Annie: With reference to a recent column in which the reader said she had lost her home to a reverse mortgage, there are two primary ways this can happen, and I want to explain how to avoid this so that it never happens to any other reader.

In a reverse mortgage, the money paid by the lender to the homeowner in reverse does NOT include the lender making property tax and hazard insurance payments on the property. Those payments must be made, and kept current, by the reverse mortgagor (the homeowner) from his or her own resources.

Failure to keep the property taxes and hazard insurance payments current can cause the lender to step in and foreclose on the reverse mortgage to protect the lender’s interests. This is because the absence of property tax payments opens up the property to a possible separate foreclosure action by the town or city in which the property is located. Also, allowing the hazard insurance to lapse exposes the lender to the possibility of losing its investment should the property burn down or otherwise suffer damage while uninsured.

A major cause of the foreclosure of reverse mortgages is the homeowner’s inability to maintain payments in these two areas — hazard insurance and property taxes — particularly once the money being paid in reverse has been exhausted and the elderly homeowner has been left with limited other funds with which to live and pay expenses. As Americans’ life spans increase, seniors are outliving the disbursement schedules on their reverse mortgages. This results in the inability to maintain property tax and hazard insurance, leading to foreclosure of reverse mortgaged properties. — Attorney at Law

Dear Attorney: I always love hearing from professionals whose expertise can help readers be aware of their obligations and things to be aware of; in this case, if they take out a reverse mortgage. Everything you say makes perfect sense. Thanks for writing.

Dear Readers: Suicide is NEVER the fault of the person who takes their life. I would like to print a letter that helps make that point very loud and clear.

Dear Annie: In one of your recent columns, a reader mentioned some resources for folks who are in crisis.

“Suicide is indeed painful for the survivors, so please take the time to review these resources rather than going for the easy out. — Resources to Help”

I’d like to think “Resources to Help” was genuinely trying to be helpful but responding to those contemplating suicide with “rather than going for the easy out” is not helpful at all! This is an appalling attitude to those contemplating ending their life by their own hand because of the pain and suffering they are enduring. This is NOT an “easy out!” It just furthers the stigma and fuels self-fulfilling prophecies that “no one cares/understands.”

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