Blog Post

Legal help for married couples with problem reverse mortgages

Designating a professional to help with your finances can give you peace of mind.

Reverse mortgages have become popular as the result of aggressive marketing and television commercials that claim this is a simple way for seniors to get cash from their home with no repayment until after they die. For most senior homeowners, a reverse mortgage is expensive and may pose big risks to borrowers. This type of loan may be useful for a senior living on a fixed income who is facing foreclosure of their conventional mortgage. Before considering a reverse mortgage in order to save a home from foreclosure, a household budget must be established that guarantees the borrower will be able to pay property taxes and homeowner insurance premiums going forward since these payments remain the borrower’s responsibility.

If you already have a reverse mortgage it is important to check to see who is listed as the owner of the property and who is named as the borrower on the reverse mortgage. Before August 2014, many reverse mortgage lenders removed the younger spouse from the deed to the house and included only the older spouse as borrower on the reverse mortgage. The older the borrower, the greater the amount that can be borrowed, which generates more interest and fees for the mortgage company. While getting more money may look good to the borrower up front, the “non-borrower” spouse who is removed from the deed faces major legal problems and the possible loss of the home if the borrower spouse dies first.

While lawsuits have been filed seeking to protect “non-borrowing” spouses from losing their home when the borrower dies, the problem has not been fixed. SeniorLAW Center can help couples with reverse mortgages who may face the “non-borrower” spouse problem, but it is imperative that seniors seek help BEFORE the death of the borrower spouse so the “non-borrowing” spouse can be added back onto the deed to the property.

SeniorLAW Center encourages all seniors with reverse mortgages to call its SeniorLAW HelpLine at 215-988-1242 for assistance in confirming that both spouses are listed on the deed to the property.

Source: Elizabeth Shay, Esq. is the Director of Homeownership Rights at SeniorLAW Center.

SeniorLAW Center is a nonprofit public interest law organization providing free legal services to older Pennsylvanians.  Housing is the primary area of service. Through its Homeowners Assistance Program, SeniorLAW provides services to vulnerable older homeowners with diverse legal problems to help them remain independent in safe, habitable homes.