Legal Forum to spotlight reverse mortgages
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Oct 10, 2012 | 1796 views | 0 0 comments | 4 4 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In response to a recent hotbed of promotional marketing that points to reverse mortgages as a viable option for financial relief to the elderly, the Bradley County Bar Association and Cleveland Bradley Public Library are bringing another Community Legal Forum to center stage.

Jack Tapper, a Cleveland attorney who has spearheaded a series of such forums over the past couple of years, told the Cleveland Daily Banner the Oct. 25 event — which is free and open to the public — will spotlight two prominent issues, one of which is the foggy question of how reverse mortgages work.

To be held in the library’s Community Room, the Thursday evening event will kick off at 7 p.m. and will include 90 minutes of discussion by a three-member panel which will include two local attorneys and a leading local mortgage company executive. Time for questions and answers will be allotted.

Tapper, who will serve as the night’s moderator and a panelist member, said the forum’s themes will include:

- “What You Need to Know About Saving Mama’s Home ... Warning: Don’t Transfer Until You Hear What We Have to Say; What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You”; and

- “Reverse Mortgages Explained: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly.”

The night’s other panel members will include Cleveland attorney George McCoin and Kim Casteel, president of USA Mortgage Inc. The trio will discuss in detail “... issues concerning the consquences of transferring deeds of homes of elderly parents to avoid loss due to long-term nursing home expenses, and what you really need to know about reverse mortgages, and the pros and cons of entering such transactions,” Tapper explained.

In an era of economic recovery nationwide, and globally, and the financial strain that The Great Recession has placed on so many American families, both topics are relevant to many Cleveland and Bradley County households, Tapper pointed out. He said the discussion on reverse mortgages is coming based on public request for such a subject.

“We have had numerous requests to explore this topic and inform the public,” Tapper said.

Of the forum’s focus on transferring the home deed of elderly parents, Tapper noted, “The need to preserve the family home is a major concern of seniors who are coaxed by adult children to transfer title to their home to avoid liens for nursing home expenses. There are so many adverse consequences to the way seniors attempt to take the matter into their own hands, we think it’s very important they know all the facts and legal pitfalls before they make their decision to sign over the family house.”

Tapper stressed this half of the forum will address the questions of elderly parents and their adult children. Both need to understand the ramifications of such decisions, he said.

“This forum will provide the answers and the facts for not only the seniors, but for their adult children to make a meaningful decision on not only what to do, but whether it’s worth the attempt,” Tapper offered.

As relevant as the opening topic will be to many Cleveland area families, the open discussion on reverse mortgages will be even more probing because of recent marketing efforts that are promoting its flexibility at a time when many elderly are struggling to meet day-to-day expenses, most of which include medical bills, prescription costs, insurance payments, utilities and food. Reductions in coverage and new limitations on Medicare, as well as some medical practices that are now refusing to accept it, are compounding the financial plight faced by many seniors.

Most reverse mortgage advertising, which is being broadcast through television and radio outlets, is encouraging seniors to refinance their homes for “ready cash,” Tapper said. But it’s not that simple.

“We want to assure the public that we’re not here to promote or sell such mortgages, but to open eyes to just what is involved in the transaction,” he pointed out. “[We want the public] to hear not just the ‘good,’ but also ‘the bad and the ugly’ aspects.”

He said elderly residents, and their families, who attend the legal forum can make better informed decisions on reverse mortgages before pursuing these types of transactions.

As with previous Bar Association events, whose crowd sizes have ranged depending on the topic, panelists will not promote services or make professional recommendations. Their intent will be to present the facts and to answer questions about each topic. The issues will be debated openly in a “friendly, educational atmosphere,” Tapper stressed.

All three panelists are experienced professionals on the topics, whether as service providers or legal experts.

The ongoing Community Legal Forum series is a public service provided by Bradley County Bar association members who are volunteering their services in an unpaid capacity. The forums are a project to support “equal access to justice for all citizens,” Tapper said.

“This is the public’s chance to find out what they need to know about significant issues affecting their lives,” the panel moderator cited. “We are looking forward to an enthusiastic turnout as part of this ongoing public service project.”

Although seating is first-come-first-served, the public is urged to call ahead at 423-472-2163, ext. 126, at the downtown library to confirm attendance.