Bruce Wells, 75, promised his mother she would never have to leave her home of 50 years and move into a nursing home.

LaVonne Epstein, who recently turned 100, worked part-time as a swimsuit model and full-time secretary at Warner Brothers Studios for much of her adult life.

LaVonne is still lucid and somewhat ambulatory, but she needs 24/7 in-home care. “She fell and broke her hip, which caused her health to decline,” Bruce says. “She was placed in several homes, which did not go well and is why I promised her it would never happen again.”

Bruce Wells got a reverse mortgage for himself after helping his mother, LaVonne Epstein, get one earlier. He and his son work on race cars, like the one pictured here.

When her second husband passed away, he left her a nice inheritance that Bruce used to pay for his mother’s care. But the level of care she needs costs $6,000 a month, so the money was exhausted within a few years and Bruce was stressing over what to do next.

He went to his bank and was thinking about a home equity loan, but he was introduced to Nina Penny, CRMP, of Malibu Funding, who suggested a reverse mortgage.

“Nina was an incredible human being. She fully understood my situation. I had reached a point where I was having to borrow money to continue paying for my mother’s care,” Bruce says. “Within a minimal amount of time, she solved my problem forever.”

LaVonne’s house in Toluca Lake, near downtown Burbank, CA, appraised for $1.2 million, which qualified her for over $600,000 in proceeds.

“It immediately lifted a tremendous weight off my shoulders. The reverse mortgage will pay for another six years of in-home care for my mother,” Bruce says. “To have full-time healthcare and the equity in the home to pay for it overcomes by hundreds of percentages what the value of the home is. The value of the house is the value of my mother’s life.” 

He was so happy with the outcome that he recently decided to get a reverse mortgage on his own home in Glendale, CA, which is in Los Angeles County.

Bruce receives income from a pension and Social Security, but he has little left over each month after paying bills and other expenses. After seeing how much his mother’s reverse mortgage changed her life, he decided to pursue one too.

“I am getting a reverse mortgage to uncomplicate my life,” he says.

Bruce is a widower who lives in the home he and his wife built in 1977. Bruce was an auto mechanic and owner of several repair shops. He later worked for the City of Los Angeles Fire Department for 27 years where he managed the supply and maintenance division.

“Everybody knew my name. If someone needed a piece of equipment fixed, a hose or a jaws of life, they came to me,” Bruce says. “If a fire engine or piece of equipment broke down at the scene of a fire or accident, either myself or a member of my team would go out to fix it.”

His true passion, however, is building racecars. “I have a large garage attached to my home and that’s where I build them,” he says. On several occasions, Bruce worked with American automotive pioneer Carroll Shelby, and he once designed a prototype model that was later used for one of Shelby’s race cars.

Bruce raced his own cars throughout the country on dirt tracks, competing against the best domestic and international drivers, and he still holds several speed records at some racetracks.

Although he no longer races, he builds cars with his son who has taken on the driving duties.

Bruce is still early in the process of getting a reverse mortgage, but he plans to set up a standby line of credit and use the funds for future needs. “I can’t thank Nina and the reverse mortgage industry enough for everything that has been done to help my mother and now myself,” he says.