How does a reverse mortgage work after death?

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A reverse mortgage is a financial product that allows homeowners aged 62 or older to convert a portion of their home equity into cash. It provides seniors with a way to access the value of their homes without having to sell or move out. However, when the homeowner passes away, the reverse mortgage must be addressed and resolved. In this article, we will explore how a reverse mortgage works after death and the steps involved in the process.

What Happens to the Reverse Mortgage After Death?

Loan Repayment: When the homeowner dies, the reverse mortgage becomes due and payable. The heirs or estate of the deceased homeowner are responsible for repaying the loan. They have several options to settle the reverse mortgage.

Selling the Home: One option is to sell the home to repay the reverse mortgage. The proceeds from the sale are used to settle the outstanding loan balance. If the home is sold for more than the loan balance, the excess funds go to the heirs or estate. On the other hand, if the home is sold for less than the loan balance, the heirs or estate are not held responsible for the shortfall. The reverse mortgage insurance covers the difference.

Refinancing the Loan: Another option is to refinance the reverse mortgage into a traditional mortgage. This allows the heirs or estate to keep the home and repay the loan through regular mortgage payments. However, this option may not be feasible for all situations, as it requires the heirs or estate to qualify for a new mortgage.

Pay Off the Loan: If the heirs or estate have sufficient funds, they can choose to pay off the reverse mortgage in full. This can be done using personal savings, life insurance proceeds, or other available assets. Paying off the loan eliminates any further obligations associated with the reverse mortgage.

Timeline and Process

Notification: When the homeowner passes away, the reverse mortgage lender must be notified as soon as possible. This allows them to initiate the loan repayment process and provide guidance to the heirs or estate.

Probate Process: In some cases, the reverse mortgage may need to go through the probate process. Probate is the legal procedure for distributing a deceased person’s assets and settling their debts. During probate, the court determines the validity of the will, appoints an executor or administrator, and oversees the distribution of assets.

Communication with the Lender: The heirs or estate should maintain open communication with the reverse mortgage lender throughout the process. They will need to provide necessary documentation and information requested by the lender to facilitate the loan repayment.

Appraisal and Sale: If the decision is made to sell the home, an appraisal is typically conducted to determine its fair market value. The heirs or estate can then proceed with listing the property for sale and engaging in the selling process.

Loan Settlement: Once the home is sold, the reverse mortgage lender will receive the proceeds from the sale. They will use these funds to pay off the outstanding loan balance, including any accumulated interest and fees. Any remaining funds will be distributed to the heirs or estate.


In conclusion, a reverse mortgage becomes due and payable after the homeowner’s death. The heirs or estate are responsible for repaying the loan, either by selling the home, refinancing the loan, or paying it off using available funds. The process involves notifying the lender, potentially going through probate, maintaining communication with the lender, conducting an appraisal and sale, and ultimately settling the loan. It is important for the heirs or estate to understand their options and work closely with the reverse mortgage lender to navigate the process smoothly.