Over the four years since your father’s death, it has been a relief to you and your sister to see Mom, at age 76, resuming an active social life. While she is able to drive and continues to manage her own finances, she does use in home care several times a week to help with bathing and light housekeeping. While neither of you children is in a position to help her financially in any significant way, you help by preparing her taxes each year, and your sister helps when she can with bringing over some meals to Mom.
Mom is determined to stay in her own home for “the remainder of her time on Earth”, as she puts it. There is no mortgage on the home, but you can see that there will be some maintenance needed in the foreseeable future, including a new heating system and roof repair. You’re concerned that those costs will put a real strain on your mother’s ability to hire the help she needs and on which she relies (and will probably need even more of as she ages). Mom might set up a home equity line of credit just to have the security of knowing she’ll be able to handle everything easily, your sister has suggested. (Your mother’s credit rating would be excellent, you’re sure, since she has been meticulous about keeping bills paid.)
Rather than a home equity line of credit, where repayment would be needed, further straining her budget, have Mom consider setting up a government-insured reverse mortgage on her home. Home maintenance needs would thus be covered, without your mother needing to make payments. In addition, the line of credit could be used to pay for increasing household and personal care needs.
A reverse mortgage could help keep Mom in exactly the place she wants to be – in her own home sweet home.