DEAR BOB: My stubborn mother, 78, owns her home free and clear, is alert and in quite good health. The house is worth about $450,000. When I recently visited her (I live about 1,500 miles away so don't get to see her often), I was shocked at how run down her house has become. The roof leaks. I could smell the mold. She finally admitted to me, after a glass or two of champagne at Sunday brunch, that she has outlived her assets, except for Social Security and a small pension. When I suggested a reverse mortgage, which you often recommend, she said her banker recommends a home equity loan to pay for a new roof and other repairs. She wants to stay in her house "forever," especially because she loves her garden. What do you suggest? --Thomas R. DEAR THOMAS: The big drawback of a home equity cre...
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