Did you hear the one about the lawyer?

Laurie MacNaughton

Friday I ran into the office to pick up some papers when the phone rang. It was a Virginia attorney with a knotty case involving a profoundly handicapped, aging client. “I’ve looked at many options,” the attorney said, “and I’m wondering if a reverse mortgage might be a solution.”

After describing the situation, the attorney mentioned, “This person has no one left who cares, and for my part, he’s really become more family than client.”

Not the first time

This was far from being the first time I have heard a similar story, so perhaps it was the direness of the client’s situation that made me reflect – reflect on the unwavering, unflagging, relentless effort Elder and Disability Law attorneys expend advocating for their clients. Reflect on the extraordinary measures attorneys go to in seeking justice for the vulnerable. Reflect on the care and concern – at times without pay – attorneys pour out protecting the seemingly forgotten members of our communities. I probably know a hundred Elder Law attorneys, and I can honestly say I can’t name one I would not entrust with the affairs of my own family.

I’m not naïve – I know there are bad lawyers, just as I know there are bad doctors, teachers and clergy. We all know there are bad loan officers – I’ve known some of them. Heck, over the years I’ve worked with some of them. But as a group, I would have to say lawyers get a disproportionately bad rap.

So here’s an open letter of thanks to the attorneys of our communities, those who spend time, talent, and at times even their own treasure, advocating, protecting, interceding on behalf of those whom many of us will never meet.

As one who also spends countless hours working out solutions for our seniors, personally I thank you. And please know I consider you among the unsung heroes of our age.


Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club · Middleburg Mortgage · 20937 Ashburn Road, Suite 115 ·Ashburn, Virginia 20147 · 703-477-1183 Direct · Laurie@MiddleburgReverse.com

   Visit me on Facebook at www.facebook.com/MiddleburgReverseMortgage

Who Is My Neighbor, Part II

What would make a couple dozen people spend one of the summer’s most beautiful weekends working on a total stranger’s home?

Why would a half dozen local businesses donate thousands of dollars in building supplies to repair the home of woman who will never walk through their door?

And who would load kids in the car and head over to an old, country home, only to spend the next 10 hours sawing, sanding, scraping, drilling, digging, pounding, painting?

I asked this very question of the many people who contributed to last weekend’s work on behalf of an elderly, ill homeowner whose home had fallen into disrepair.

And the answer? Invariably it was a version of what I have come to call “NIMBY in Reverse”:

Not in my backyard am I going to know about this kind of suffering and turn away. Not in my backyard am I going to allow an aging, suffering woman to live in unsafe, unsound conditions. Not on my watch are the needs of the needy going to go unmet.

So here’s a word of thanks to all who turned out at a moment’s notice to do an enormous amount of work on the home of a resident they had never met and may well never again see.

A huge word of thanks goes to Rankin’s Hardware, The Paint Shop, and The Home Depot, all of Warrenton, and Lowe’s of Gainesville, for donating building supplies; to Domino’s Pizza and Chick-Fil-A, both of Warrenton, for providing food for the volunteers; and to Fauquier Jewish Congregation, Saint James’ Episcopal Church, and members of the Fauquier community for turning out en mass to volunteer.

A special thanks also goes to thank Julie Randall, Nancy Lagasse, Dorothy Smith, and Rabbi Rose Jacob for their extraordinary efforts in helping pull this together in a matter of days.


Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] ∙ Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club ∙ Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank ∙ 20937 Ashburn Road ∙ Ashburn, VA 20147 ∙ 703-477-1183 Direct ∙ LMacNaughton@MiddleburgBank.com ∙ www.MiddleburgReverse.com

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

Things We Forgot to Say Goodbye To – For the 55+ Crowd

This past week I read some very sad news: as of June 1, MetLife’s Mature Market Institute is no more.

To those not familiar with the reference, Met’s MMI was arguably the premier source of data on trends in aging, and typically the first place many in the senior-services sector turned when searching for reliable – and reliably well-written – information.

Had they simply been good summarizers, MMI’s loss would have been lamentable, as those of us obsessive about accuracy will now have to search farther and longer for our data. But MMI’s information was not just summary; it was original, sometimes humorous, often thought-provoking, and their studies addressed surprisingly varied topics. They managed to present sometimes-sobering data without lapsing into the dismal, and the viewpoints they represented seemed to closely reflect those of the seniors I encounter daily.

MMI, you will be missed. Let us all hope your fine writers and researchers find as good a home elsewhere.

On a lighter note, after reflecting on this loss, a friend and I compiled a list – though nothing as profound as the loss of MMI – of items we forgot to say goodbye to:

Missed by my friend, who grew up in the thirties and forties:

  1. Paramount Theater in NYC with two live shows a day. He’d cut school for Frank Sinatra and Tommy Dorsey, and see both for $1.50.
  2. Running boards on cars.
  3. Pasteurized, but not homogenized, milk. It was delivered to your back door in bottles and the cream would rise to the top.
  4. Exploding Bakelite, replaced by melamine.
  5. Really thick ice cream, made with whole milk and cream.
  6. Primary schools (K-12) set aside one day a week as “bank day”; children were given a bank book and encouraged to bring to school whatever the family could afford to give (his was a nickel). The teacher would log the deposit in bank books, then take the proceeds to the school’s bank, where it was held.
  7. Iodine for cuts.

I grew up in the ‘70’s so my list was different:

  1. The Encyclopedia Britannica. I now use mine as a decorative element…and do I admit some of its beautiful renderings have ended up framed on my wall?
  2. Looking up movie times in the paper.
  3. Looking up movie theaters in the Yellow Pages.
  4. Looking up movie theaters’ locations on the accursed fold-up, flip-over, oh-crum-this-is-the-wrong-one, pain-in-the-neck map.
  5. Glass shampoo bottles.
  6. Woodburning kits with 8-inch cords…because that’s where drapes were best accessed.
  7. Iodine – added to baby lotion for extra-dark tans.

Give me a call or shoot me a line – I’d love to hear what you forgot to say goodbye to.

Laurie Denker MacNaughton

Laurie Denker MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] ∙ Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club ∙ Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank ∙ 20937 Ashburn Road ∙ Ashburn, VA 20147 ∙ 703-477-1183 Direct ∙ LMacNaughton@MiddleburgBank.com ∙ http://www.facebook.com/Laurie.Denker.MacNaughton 

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

Planners who Plan, Fixes that Fix – and Real Solutions for Real Life

Solutions Looking for a Problem

I stood at the paper towel machine waving my hands like a feeble magician trying to conjure paper towels when the thought occurred to me: I frankly can’t remember the last time I heard someone complain about pulling a paper towel from a dispenser. Self-dispensing paper towels solve a problem that was never a problem.

This got me to thinking: how many other fixes fix problems that aren’t problems? And if you can believe it, I actually came up with several – but that’s a different commentary altogether. It’s the corollary that hit home.

Finite choices

Remember functions? Those funky f(x) equations in math class? Basically, a function is a set of inputs and their corresponding outputs. Put another way, a function says if I do this, I get that – one solution for each problem. There is a finite list of outcomes.

Fortunately, most day-to-day issues are not direct functions, and multiple solutions exist for many of life’s problems. But often, the farther one travels into retirement the more limited the solution set becomes. Options become limited and outcome becomes a direct function of input.

Larger solution sets

In what I consider one of the most encouraging transformations in the history of the reverse mortgage product, I am seeing a regular stream of clients referred from the financial planning community. Seniors seeking informed input are turning to an informed source, namely their financial professional. Of course, I’ll never know how many financial professionals steer their senior clients away from reverse mortgage – but I do know an increasing number tell me they view reverse mortgage as a legitimate financial tool when used in concert with a comprehensive financial plan.

Financial professionals refer clients well before catastrophe strikes, before clients’ means have dwindled, before financial limits are reached – before the financial boat plunges over the cliff of desperation. Planners understand multiple inputs equal a bigger solution set.

Real solutions for real life

I hear the same stories everyone else in the financial industry hears: seniors unable to return to full-time employment. A spouse lost, and the resulting 50% drop in income. A catastrophic event – or a chronic condition that became financially catastrophic. Or, simply, too much life left at the end of the money.

Unlike the motion-detecting paper towel dispenser, reverse mortgage is a real solution to a real problem.  When put in place preemptively, before it’s just a crisis management tool, reverse mortgage can be part of a sound retirement plan that maintains independence as long as possible and slows burn-through on other retirement instruments.

If you are – or someone you know is – looking for ways to increase financial options, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.


Laurie Denker MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club · 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

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

Good time to Buy? Oh Yeah

This week there was good news on the economic front: the May 17 Thompson Reuters/University of  Michigan preliminary index of consumer confidence posted the strongest gain since July 2007. In addition to this news was the Conference Board’s higher-than-forecast growth projections for the coming three to six months.

Jim O’Sullivan chief economist at High Frequency Economics in Valhalla, New York, says consumers’ gain in confidence “is testimony to underlying growth in spending power.”

Home Prices

The biggest winner was housing prices, which historically have represented the biggest portion of household wealth. The S&P/Case-Shiller index of home values shows housing prices in 20 markets 9.3 percent higher than a year ago.

This is good news for those selling their existing home. However, there is still good news for those looking to purchase: interest rates remain at or near all-time lows, boosting purchasing power when shopping for a new home.

Purchase Your Retirement Home

The FHA HECM for Purchase is an outstanding seniors’-only home purchase product for homebuyers aged 62 or older. Since there is never a monthly mortgage payment required, seniors have access to more of their monthly income as they move further into retirement.

If you are aged 62 or older and are looking to purchase a home, give me a call. HECM for Purchase may be the perfect way to get you into your new retirement home.


Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club · 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

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

The Incredible Journey Revisited

Today was one of those days – filled with one weird difficulty after another. But late in the afternoon my phone rang. It was Lisa Thomas, inviting me to her grandmother’s 88th birthday party.

It has been a couple years since I have thought deeply about what came to be called The Thomas Project. But hearing Lisa’s voice made me track down the piece that originally ran in a Loudoun County publication. The intervening years have made the story seem even more remarkable than it did at the time.

Loudoun County Area Volunteers Assist Elderly Couple

September 2011

In 1952 when Ed Thomas and his bride Virginia bought a home on the outskirts of Leesburg they were young, full of expectation, and looking forward to life together.

It was in this small wooden home that Ed and Virginia raised their children, played with their grandchildren, and experienced the joys and hardships that make up the fabric of life.

But by 2009, both Ed, now ill with cancer, and Virginia, suffering from diabetes, had had extensive medical procedures and were hospitalized. They wanted nothing more, however, than to live out their days in the home they had shared for more than fifty years.

The home, however, was now uninhabitable: the toilet had partially fallen through the floorboards, an exterior bearing wall had major damage, the chimney had collapsed, there was no central heating, and the front steps had rotted and fallen off the porch. Both the home and yard were filled with decades’ worth of cast-offs belonging to extended family. Restoring the home to a livable condition was beyond their reach.

Beyond their reach, that is, until the Thomases’ granddaughter, Lisa Thomas, contacted Laurie MacNaughton, reverse mortgage specialist with Wells Fargo Home Mortgage. MacNaughton, after fruitless calls to multiple local organizations, contacted Round Hill United Methodist Church of Round Hill, Virginia, which counts several contractors among its members. Professionals from the congregation inspected the home and agreed to take on the project.

“Our goal, plain and simple, was to repair the Thomases’ home to habitable condition. They spent their entire married life there, and understandably they want to spend their final days together in their home. There are those of us in the Leesburg area with the professional skills necessary to carry out this project, and the determination to make it happen,” says Steve Simons, area manager of Handyman Matters.

Manpower for the ground-up renovation was provided by professionals and volunteers from Round Hill United Methodist Church and the local community. The Home Depot in Leesburg supplied building materials, and McCrea Heating and Air provided an HVAC unit. Thousands of man-hours over the course of more than two years, and overseen by Handyman Matters’ Simons, went into the reconstruction.

“I am so overwhelmed and blessed that there are actually people in this world willing to help,” says Lisa Thomas, granddaughter of Ed and Virginia. “For a year I tried to help my grandparents get back into their home, but I didn’t have the resources to make it happen. All my grandparents wanted was to be together again. Round Hill [Methodist Church] has done a wonderful thing. Steve [Simons] has been amazing. And none of this could have happened without Laurie [MacNaughton]. Honestly, I have to keep pinching myself to be sure is really happening.”

“This entire journey has been one of a church’s and a community’s generosity, love, and remarkable perseverance,” says MacNaughton. “I think of it as ‘NIMBY’ in reverse. This community came together and said, ‘We simply are not going to know about this kind of suffering in our own backyard and just turn our back. As long as we have the ability to remedy this, we are putting our hand to the plow.’ I only wish Mr. Thomas had lived to see this day.”

The Thomas home is now fully complete, and has all the charm associated with a grandmother’s cottage. It has been outfitted with handicapped-accessible amenities, including a roll-in shower, transfer toilet, wide doorways, and a specially designed kitchen.

On September 28th the extended Thomas family, along with members of Round Hill Methodist Church and the community, will welcome Virginia Thomas home with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and celebration.

Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club · 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

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/

Adult Children Supporting Aging Parents – The Gift That Keeps on Taking

A question I get asked a lot is whether I run into greedy adult kids who don’t want their parents to do a reverse mortgage.

Answer? Yes. But rarely.

More common by far is the family I met with Sunday – a wonderful, functional extended family which includes two adult sons and their widowed mother. Since their father’s passing three years ago the sons have been supplementing their mother’s meager income. However, each son has children approaching the college years, and the mother’s medical expenses are on the rise. They know they cannot continue supporting their mother at the current pace.

The gift that keeps on taking

We all have heard one thing or another referred to as “a gift that keeps on giving.” I have come to call the financial support of an aging parent by an adult child “the gift that keeps on taking.” Money the adult child should be setting aside for retirement is instead being gifted to an aging parent to augment insufficient income.

A short aside about gifting

Currently you can gift another person $14,000 per year before hitting a tax liability. This is called the annual gift exclusion.

In addition to what you can give per year, there is a lifetime exclusion. In 2013 the lifetime exclusion is set at $5.12 million. Gifts that exceed the annual $14,000 limit count against the lifetime exclusion. Frankly, for most Americans this is not an issue. However, if you do go over this amount, the tax liability packs a wallop.

And just exactly how big a wallop? Up to a cool 35%.

Gifting among family members is often under the table. However, make no mistake: this is not a gray area. The IRS requires you to keep tabs on your gifts – and to report these gifts – so it will know how much of your lifetime exclusion has been used up when you die. If the Internal Revenue Service catches you exceeding the annual amount, you will pay taxes, interest, and penalties.

Meanwhile, back to…

Sunday’s family. Not only are the two sons are supporting their mother with after-tax earnings, but over the past couple years they have found themselves having to watch the annual gift exclusion. This is a pricy fix – and one that has long-term implications.

For the average family, the biggest financial boon an aging parent can give an adult child is financial self-sufficiency. This increases the likelihood adult children will head into their own retirement with savings intact.

Life is long and getting longer. Medical costs are high and getting higher. And few people get 10 years down the road into retirement and find themselves financially better off.

Reverse mortgage is not a fit for everyone. But for many, not only is it a good option – it is an excellent option. It lifts the burden on the upcoming generation and allows seniors to live out their final years in dignity, comfort and independence.

If you are – or someone you know is – considering a reverse mortgage, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.


Laurie 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

Silver Separation and the Forty-Year Itch

They call it Silver Separation, or the Forty-Year Itch, and it’s one of the nation’s fastest-growing trends: divorce among couples aged 60 and older. In fact, though divorce rates nationally have dropped over the past decade, among older baby boomers divorce rates have risen more than 50%, according to a 2012 study published in the academic journal Gerontologist.

Experts cite many reasons for this trend, including longevity, greater financial independence among women, and less social stigma toward the divorced.

A study conducted by Bowling Green State University states, “Lengthening life expectancies decrease the likelihood that marriages will end through death and increase the length of exposure to the risk of divorce.”

For many, retirement becomes the watershed moment: kids are grown and gone, career battles fought, most major life-choices made.

“It’s a time some boomers look around and ask, ‘Is this how I want to spend the next 30 years?'” says Beth Von Keller, an elder law attorney in Manassas, Virginia. “In some cases a spouse decides the answer is “no.'”

However, later-life divorce can create vulnerabilities. “When older couples divorce, there is less time to recover financially,” Von Keller states. “Also, historically husbands and wives played a major role in spousal caregiving, and couples relied upon each other for emotional support. That falls away when older couples divorce.”

No one plans to divorce, but no life unfolds according to plan. And no amount of planning can insulate one from the unexpected. However, a solid “Plan B” can determine how successfully one navigates a new reality.

Reverse mortgage can play an important role in later-life divorce, providing funds for property settlements where one party wishes to remain in the home. It can also be an important means of income stream replacement.

If you need – or someone you know needs – to assess options, give me a call. I always love hearing from you.


Laurie MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] ∙ Reverse Mortgage Consultant ∙ Middleburg Mortgage, a Division of Middleburg Bank ∙ 20937 Ashburn Road ∙ Ashburn, VA 20147 ∙ 703-477-1183 Direct ∙ LMacNaughton@MiddleburgBank.com ∙ www.MiddleburgReverse.com

Retirement Advice for the Gentler Sex

I like to ask questions, and one of my favorite is, “If you’re a baby boomer, what is your life expectancy?” The most common answer? 78.

Reality is, however, that one in three Americans live to at least 85, and most of these are women. So, as a woman, if your financial plans don’t include at least a decade of leeway the later retirement years can be tricky.

Below is a list of some of the best advice I have compiled regarding retirement.

  1. Continue working part-time during retirement. A wealth manager friend of mine likes to say, “Retirement is a journey, not a destination,” and increasingly seniors seem to assume this will be the case. In fact, according to a recent Pew Research study 3 out of 5 seniors plan to work at least part-time for as long as they can in order to delay a draw-down of savings.
  2. Continue to save. For most people, it’s unrealistic to save enough during the peak earning years to amass a nest egg large enough to carry them through retirement. However, even if you work part-time, put some of those earnings aside. It can make a huge difference.
  3. Don’t assume moving to a location with low housing prices makes your retirement savings go farther. While it may be true that cheap housing translates into a lower cost of living, that is not a given. Several states with low housing costs have high sales tax and high homeowners insurance. Savings from low housing prices can quickly be eaten up by high costs elsewhere.
  4. Lower taxes in retirement? Be careful here. You may very well be in a lower tax bracket once you retire, but as a percentage of income your taxes are likely to be greater. Furthermore, once retired you are likely to lose certain deductions and exemptions. So when planning, be realistic in calculating your tax burden.
  5. Don’t assume long-term care will come to the rescue. Here’s a fact I only recently became aware of: according to data available from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, many long-term insurance plans only pay out for two to five years. For this reason it is very important to plan a many-pronged approach to long-term care. One misconception I hear frequently is that Medicare or Medicaid will pay for nursing home or in-home care. The issues surrounding government-sponsored care is so complex that there are attorneys who specialize just in these matters. An uninformed – or misinformed – spend-down can have very bad consequences, so be sure to seek counsel before spending down assets in order to qualify for benefits.
  6. I love my job and will work to my dying day. Frankly, I feel the same way. However, barring acquisition of a crystal ball, you just can’t count on working forever as part of your retirement strategy.
  7. Look into reverse mortgage. According to a recent report by the Boston College Center for Retirement Research, adding funds from a reverse mortgage significantly boosts financial wellness in retirement.

Reverse mortgage was never intended to be a replacement for a sound financial retirement plan. However, it can play an important role in augmenting what is already in place, and slow the burn-through rate on other retirement instruments.

Give me a call and let’s talk.


Laurie Denker MacNaughton [NMLS# 506562] · Reverse Mortgage Consultant, President’s Club · 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

Visit my Informational Blog at https://middleburgreverselady.wordpress.com/