Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Life in the Old Lane

Location in Polk County and the state of FloridaImage via Wikipedia

First, the good news. I own half of a house in Florida. The bad news is actually NOT, not in the operant sense of the word, as in, "Take the money and run."

Because California is a community property state, I have recently discovered that it turns out that I am, indeed, half owner of my mother-in-law's home in Winter Haven, which she signed over to my wife nearly 20 years ago, retaining a "life interest," which allows her to stay in the home as long as she is able.

Now almost 98, my mother-in-law has proved surprisingly "able," and until Monday was still in her home, my wife's sister Esther serving as caregiver for some years now, and when the roll is called up yonder *she* will be there.

If there is, indeed, a "yonder" and Justice minding the door.

But Monday my mother-in-law went into the hospital -- again, but this time at least one of her doctors says it's time she went into a home, adding, "She won't be coming back."

There is not a good moment for this sort of thing, but this week is a particularly bad moment because we are on the verge of signing up for a reverse mortgage because my mother-in-law has managed to outlive her money. Her only remaining asset is her home, which isn't actually hers but is sort of hers.

(It's half mine! Sort of.)

My wife and I can, in fact, get a reverse mortgage on the house, the terms of which are tied to my mother-in-law's health. If she dies (obviously) or if she permanently moves out of the house, we are committed to selling the house.

This is now a vexed point because the upfront costs on a reverse mortgage are considerable, which is compensated for by the fact you don't have to pay any of them until you sell the house. But if you *immediately* have to sell the house, your effective interest rate is astonishing.

So that's where we are. If mum-in-law goes into a home, we are going to need cash, and we've taken a beating (like everyone else) in the financial meltdown, so we need to find that cash in the Winter Haven property. So, now perhaps an equity loan is the way to go? Or can we even get one???

It's a muddle, and we have 48 hours to try to figure it out. But at least we are receiving looks of admiration. Several folk have displayed various levels of disbelief at the fact we are not chucking the old lady in a home, getting her on Medicare reimbursement as soon as possible, forcing a sale of the house and taking that cruise I've always dreamed of, the one to Alaska in a hundred-passenger cruise ship where you actually get to ride a whale or something.

Well, what are you going to do? I love my wife, and my wife loves her mother.

Hey, baby, what you want for your birthday? I got half a house I'm not using. Nah, go ahead. Take it.

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