Financial advisors may have to suggest various planning tactics, but other ideas come from clients themselves. "One retired couple, both age 66, walked in the door with the idea of using a reverse mortgage for purchase of their dream home, closer to family," says Clarissa Hobson, a financial planner with Carnick & Kubik, personal financial advisors in Colorado Springs, Colo. "They had read about it, and hired me specifically for the purpose of analyzing whether or not this would be a good idea."

Clients may like the idea of receiving a monthly check from a lender, effectively borrowing against their home equity. Online calculators can reveal the payoff. For example, at reversemortgage.org, presented by the National Reverse Mortgage Lenders Association, a 66-year-old couple with a $300,000 home would learn they could receive $917 a month, or about $11,000 a year, from an adjustable rate Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM).

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