The Ace in the Hole

Andrew does not regret taking out the reverse mortgage line of credit. “It’s my ace in the hole,” he says, “if something happens to me.”

Port Ludlow, Washington is a beautiful, bayside town of about 2,000 people with breathtaking views of the gorgeous Olympic Mountains. Those who like boating, fishing, hiking, and golfing need look no further, and for those who crave some urban adventure, Seattle is just an hour and a half away. The mountains form a “rain shadow” that shuts out storms, so the area sees less rain than much of the rest of the Pacific Northwest. The Pacific Ocean’s Humboldt Current keeps the area warm enough that it rarely snows. As such, ferries run frequently in the area, between nearby Bainbridge and Seattle. It is here in Port Ludlow that Andrew, an 84-year old World War II naval veteran and retired shipping bag salesman, makes his home. As much as he enjoys Port Ludlow, he also enjoys leaving it.

The sports fan goes to Seattle to watch the Mariners play a few times each summer and to Seahawks games during the fall and winter, and often makes it to Vancouver to catch the Canucks. He enjoys area museums, the beach, and going on excursions to the naval station on Whidbey Island and out to the Naval Submarine Base in Bangor with the Association of Naval Aviation, of which he is a member.

He has a wonderful time, except for one thing. Sadly, he must enjoy Port Ludlow and all of its nearby attractions without his wife.

Barbara had suffered bouts of multiple sclerosis several times during her life, and often had to take prednisone and other steroids from which she suffered ill effects. The MS and the medications combined to cause urinary and heart problems. She was in a fragile state; such that it was decided that it was in her best interests to place her in a nursing home. Andrew was at a loss, however, as to how to do so. They lived comfortably on their monthly income, but as Andrew says, “a good nursing home could cost six or seven thousand dollars a month.” He wanted his wife to be in the best nursing home available. They didn’t have six or seven thousand dollars a month, however.

The plan for a solution came from several thousand miles away in Arizona, where Mr. Morton’s cousin had just taken out a reverse mortgage on his home. “His home is worth one and a half to two million, and his loan was for $667,000,” says Andrew. “So I figured if it was good enough for him, it was good enough for us.”

He began work with Margaret Belli of Bank of America, who was very thorough and informative. “She explained everything well,” says Andrew. He wasn’t as excited about the counseling part of the process. Engagingly outspoken, he said, “It’s a good idea, but a waste of money. I don’t need some [counselor] asking me if I knew what I was doing….” He does agree that it is necessary for many borrowers, and that it is important that people know what they’re getting into. The couples’ home was appraised for $225,000 and they were eligible for $167,000, all of which is accessed in a line of credit.

Although the reverse mortgage was the answer to Andrew's dilemma, Barbara sadly passed away from urinary complications and congestive heart failure before they found a suitable nursing care facility. Andrew does not regret taking out the reverse mortgage line of credit, however. “It’s my ace in the hole,” he says, “if something happens to me.” He said he also may take more trips, possibly even a train trip around the whole United States. “You have a bedroom on the train, and you can travel around the country. You can’t beat that.”

Despite the sadness of Barbara's passing, her widower now has a source of security and possible enjoyment as he continues to live in their beautiful Port Ludlow home.