How do we decide between a reverse mortgage for my father or a personal loan from me?

3 answers | Last updated: Feb 21, 2017
A fellow caregiver asked...

My father is considering a reverse mortgage to help with monthly expenses, but, as his daughter, I'm concerned about losing equity in our family home. I'm considering offering him a personal loan of about $50,000 so that he won't take this step. What should we consider before conducting this type of transaction within the family?

Expert Answers

Barbara Steinberg is the CEO and founder of BLS Eldercare Financial Solutions, which specializes in helping families pay for long-term care for their loved ones. A registered financial gerontologist, she speaks regularly on the topic of paying for long-term care and is a financial expert for

Loans between family members are always fraught with potential complications, and your case is no exception. There are a number of issues to consider, but they all boil down to one big issue: What would be the impact of this type of loan on you and your family?

First, let's focus on your situation. Can you afford to be without $50,000 for the balance of your father's lifetime? Will you charge your father interest on the loan? If not, you'll be giving up any earnings you could have had on that money during the period your father has use of the funds. Also, what if the $50,000 runs out and your father needs additional money? Are you prepared to loan him more? You need to be able to answer these questions yourself before you make any offer to your father.

If you choose to loan the money to your father, be sure to fully document the agreement in writing. Loaning him money may complicate your relationship, as well as your relationship with any siblings you may have. In fact, it would be a good idea to thoroughly discuss the idea with your siblings first to make sure that everyone is on board -- or at least aware of the new financial relationship. For example, if you have any brothers or sisters, they may also be beneficiaries in your father's will. Will you expect to receive repayment of the loan from your father's estate, prior to sharing the inheritance?

It may also be worthwhile to give a reverse mortgage a second look. It's true that your father's equity in his home will be decreased by the principal of the loan, along with the closing costs that are rolled into the total amount of the loan. But as long as your father stays in the house, if the value of his home increases, so will his remaining equity. And when your father either sells the house or passes away, you and your siblings will have the opportunity to pay off the amount of the reverse mortgage and assume ownership of the house.

Community Answers

Reverse09 answered...

Daughter's "concerned about losing equity" - a moot point.

Actually, the $50k repayment will impact the end equity numbers (daughter's loan or reverse mortgage option)...both choices would be repaid from the sale proceeds.

So in the end, there would be less equity no matter which option they choose.

just my two cents

Sjolley2 answered...

You should explore all options and understand the consequences of each one to determine which is in your father's best financial interest and wellbeing for the rest of his life. There is one reason to get a reverse mortgage: Use as a tool in your financial strategy, meets your financial goals, and provides financial security through retirement. A reverse mortgage is a complex financial instrument with lifelong consequences for seniors. You need financial and legal advice to understand those consequences and if they are acceptable to you because once you sign on the dotted line it is very difficult to recover from the financial damage. I welcome calls from consumers, consumer advocacy agencies, legal and financial professionals. Sandy Jolley, Reverse Mortgage Suitability and Abuse Expert.