Today I met with two typical Washington, D.C. couples: well-educated, highly-sophisticated, both have traveled broadly and lived internationally. Both live in charming, high-end D.C. neighborhoods. And in what I can only call a rapidly emerging scenario, though well past the traditional age of retirement, both couples still work – and both have one advanced-elderly parent living with them.
What has transpired that the HECM now finds itself squarely within the retirement plans of a demographic who heretofore would not so much as have entertained the idea.
We have prolonged life to a remarkable degree – but we cannot stop aging. We’re in a pickle: the old go on for decades, until the children of the advanced elderly are themselves deep into their own retirement years.
Many adult children will eventually be called upon to support their parents. The parents, no matter how independent they wish to be, cannot be left unsupervised. They need, at very least, an in-home companion, but as needs go up, costs go up. And here’s the tough part: the adult kids themselves need every penny they have to make it through retirement.
The Pickle Jar
The graphic I often use when speaking on the HECM is one of an old fashioned pickle jar. Not the little kind where you can reach bottom with an iced tea spoon – no, the jar I’m talking about is one of the BIG ones, the kind you had to reach your whole arm down into to grab the big, fat pickle at the bottom. So that big jar, into which for 30 years homeowners have been piling pennies, is the home. Now the mortgage is paid off, the jar is full – or mostly so – but the jar lid is screwed on.
The FHA-insured HECM, when set up as a line of credit, allows seniors to reach into the jar and take out pennies – one at a time, ten at a time, or a fistful at a time – according to their need. It is a non-cancellable line of credit, waiting in reserve to be used as needs arise.
How does this help in the case of the families I met today.
As they labor to meet the needs of their advanced elderly family member, the “burn-through” rate of their income and savings is too rapid. They have done the math: if expenditures continue apace, there will be nothing left for them when they are that age.
In today’s Journal of Financial Planning, authors Dr. John Salter and Harold Evensky write, “…[t]he FHA HECM Saver offers unique and attractive features,” and then go on to say:
We find this risk management strategy improves portfolio survival rates by a significant amount. The improvement in survival rates is attributable to the mitigation of the volatility drain – the risk of having to sell investments when depreciated.
The Journal article is spot-on. Current trends suggest that within a few years, rare indeed will be the person whose older relative does not depend upon a reverse mortgage for income, for a financial safety net – and for the very preservation of dignity itself.
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Laurie Denker MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant · Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank · 20937 Ashburn Road, Suite 115 ·Ashburn, Virginia 20147 · 703-477-1183 Direct · LMacNaughton@MiddleburgBank.com · www.middleburgmortgage.com/lauriem
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