Jumbo Reverse Mortgages Are Increasingly Available for High-Value Homes

August 3, 2016

Seniors with pricier homes now have an increased ability to get a jumbo reverse mortgage in order to raise cash for retirement. As the housing market has improved, jumbo reverse mortgages are becoming more popular even though they carry some risk.

Reverse mortgages allow homeowners who are at least 62 years of age to borrow money on their house. The homeowner receives a sum of money from the lender, based largely on the value of the house, the age of the borrower, and current interest rates. The loan does not need to be paid back until the last surviving homeowner dies, sells the house, or permanently moves out. Homeowners can use money from a reverse mortgage to pay for improvements to their home, to allow them to delay taking Social Security, or to pay for home health care.

The most widely available reverse mortgage product is the Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM), the only reverse mortgage program insured by the Federal Housing Administration (FHA). However, the FHA sets a ceiling on the amount that can be borrowed against a single-family house, which is determined on a county-by-county basis. The national limit on the amount a homeowner can borrow is $625,000.

High-end borrowers must look to the proprietary reverse mortgage market, which imposes no loan limits. Proprietary or jumbo reverse mortgages allow buyers to borrow millions of dollars. For example, American Advisors Group, a reverse mortgage lender, allows borrowers to obtain a reverse mortgage on properties valued up to $6 million. Qualified borrowers can borrow up to $3 million in loan proceeds. While HECM loans limit the amount a borrower can have access to in the first year, these jumbo mortgages may allow the borrower to access the entire loan right away.

The downside of a jumbo reverse mortgage is that because it is not insured, it doesn’t have to have the protections set by the federal government for HECM reverse mortgages. For example, loan counseling isn’t required and fees are not restricted. During the housing market collapse most lenders stopped offering jumbo reverse mortgages, but as the market has improved, the jumbo is returning.

A reverse mortgage is not the right step for everyone. For more information on whether to get a reverse mortgage.

For more information about the new jumbo reverse mortgages, click here.

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What Is Undue Influence?

Saying that there has been “undue influence” is often used as a reason to contest a will or estate plan, but what does it mean?

Undue influence occurs when someone exerts pressure on an individual, causing that individual to act contrary to his or her wishes and to the benefit of the influencer or the influencer’s friends. The pressure can take the form of deception, harassment, threats, or isolation. Often the influencer separates the individual from their loved ones in order to coerce. The elderly and infirm are usually more susceptible to undue influence.

To prove a loved one was subject to undue influence in drafting an estate plan, you have to show that the loved one disposed of his or her property in a way that was unexpected under the circumstances, that he or she is susceptible to undue influence (because of illness, age, frailty, or a special relationship with the influencer), and that the person who exerted the influence had the opportunity to do so. Generally, the burden of proving undue influence is on the person asserting undue influence. However, if the alleged influencer had a fiduciary relationship with your loved one, the burden may be on the influencer to prove that there was no undue influence. People who have a fiduciary relationship can include a child, a spouse, or an agent under a power of attorney. For more information on contesting a will, go here.

When drawing up a will or estate plan, it is important to avoid even the appearance of undue influence. For example, if you are planning on leaving everything to your daughter who is also your primary caregiver, your other children may argue that your daughter took advantage of her position to influence you. To avoid the appearance of undue influence, do not involve any family members who are inheriting under your will in drafting your will. Family members should not be present when you discuss the will with your attorney or when you sign it. To be totally safe, family members shouldn’t even drive or accompany you to the attorney’s office. You can also get a formal assessment of your mental capabilities done by a medical professional before you draft estate planning documents. For more information on preventing a will contest, go here.

July 14, 2016

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