DEAR BOB: After my mother died many years ago, my father married a much younger woman. They have been happily married since then. They live in “dad’s house” although he added her to the title some years ago. She is now 52 and dad is 83. They badly need more income to maintain the house and pay living expenses. I estimate the house is worth at least $400,000. Can they qualify for a reverse mortgage based on dad’s age? –Alan R.
DEAR ALAN: If both your dad and your stepmother are on the title, they are not eligible for a senior citizen reverse mortgage. The reason is your stepmother is too young, as she is not yet age 62.
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Even if she were 62, reverse mortgage eligibility is based on the age of the youngest co-owner. The result would be minimum eligibility.
However, this problem can be easily solved if your stepmother will sign a quit claim deed to your father so he becomes the sole owner of the house. Then he can easily obtain a reverse mortgage with a choice of a lump sum, credit line (except in Texas), or lifetime monthly income.
The obvious drawback is your stepmother will be giving up her ownership interest in the house. This is a matter they need to resolve.
WHY DON’T MORTGAGE LENDERS LIKE LIVING TRUSTS?
DEAR BOB: We recently refinanced our home mortgage to reduce our interest rate and take out tax-free cash. However, the nasty mortgage lender insisted we take the title out of our living trust, sign and record the mortgage papers, and then we could deed the title back to our living trust. The cost of this extra paperwork and the recording taxes was more than $500. Was this really necessary? –Darcy W.
DEAR DARCY: No. Some mortgage lenders are not very smart. They refuse to realize that a living-trust trustee, who was the original creator or trustor of the living trust, is the equivalent of the property owner.
Instead, these unenlightened lenders made borrowers like you go through the unnecessary costly procedure of taking your home’s title out of your living trust, signing and recording the mortgage papers, and then re-deeding the title back into your living trust. Just be thankful this unnecessary lender game only cost you about $500 wasted.
NO LEGAL RIGHT TO DETERMINE WILL CONTENTS BEFORE DEATH
DEAR BOB: About four months ago, my widower dad, age 74, said he fell in love with a younger woman and married her in Las Vegas without telling any of his three adult children. We only learned of this when I phoned him in October and a young woman answered the phone. She said he was “out.” I left a message and he phoned me back several days later. When I asked who answered the phone, he said it was his wife. As dad is worth at least several million dollars, we are concerned his wife is a “gold digger.” When I forced myself on them and visited over Thanksgiving, they were friendly but very “coy.” I asked how old dad’s wife is and he replied, “Well, in 25 years, she will be 50.” Is there any way I can obtain a copy of his will to determine if he changed it to leave all his real estate to his new wife when he passes on? –Jerome C.
DEAR JEROME: No. Unless your father is mentally incompetent,there is nothing you can do in the situation you describe. You and your siblings have no legal right to determine the contents of your dad’s will to learn who will receive his real estate and other assets when he passes on. For more details, I suggest you consult a probate attorney in the state where your father resides.
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