Equity Release Research Key Issues

This is a follow-up to my post “Equity Release Revisited” which prompted me to look into the subject again.   I first wrote blogs about this subject in 2012 and then again in 2015.    (You can find my earlier posts by clicking on Equity Release in the TAG CLOUD).

Where on earth do you start with this ?   It should be simple and straightforward.    There are occasional adverts on the tele, but they appear and disappear so quickly that you can’t remember any contacts from them, so that’s no good.   I do recall an advert a while ago.   What was that nice man Michael Parkinson on about ?    Oh no, that was funeral plans.

Maybe there will be something in the papers at the weekend.  I flipped through every page of the Sunday papers, especially all the ads about sit-in showers and mobility scooters, but, I couldn’t find a thing.

Of course, there will be everything you would ever want to know on the internet, but, that remains a mystery to the majority of older elderly people.    Yet they are the very people who might most need equity release.

Perhaps I could start with that helpful little brochure that came through the post the other day.    I don’t remember sending for it, but, I suppose I must have ticked a box somewhere.   It’s called “RetireWise” from Key, whoever they are.    It looks like a magazine, with quizzes and prizes, but, I think it is no more than an advert for equity release.

Sure enough when I open it, I can see it is a 28-page advert for equity release, plus a few plugs for stair lifts and travel insurance for old people and cosy wide fitting shoes and ready meals and wills.   That’s obviously what life’s all about when you start thinking about equity release.

Then there are lots of reassuring words about equity release.  Key words like “more choice”, “more freedom”, “SWEET FREEDOM”, “the best of times” and last but not least “safeguarding your future”.   In other words, if you don’t opt for equity release, who knows what will happen to you.

There is a problem here however.  Having read all 28-pages I can’t really find any facts.   I guess that’s why at the bottom of every page is a footnote suggesting that you “ book a free consultation with your local adviser today”.    Not a lot of magazines offer this excellent service of a home visit.   I don’t remember this home visiting service coming with the Beano when I was a child, nor with Architects Journal when I was training and could have done with some occasional advice.   It doesn’t even come in Amateur Gardener when a bit of help around the garden would be most welcome.

I did find one set of figures, which were about fees for this advice, if you decide to go ahead.    It’s free —- “There are no up front fees”, so the brochure claims.  Except ….. you do pay 1.99% of the loan, but, there is a minimum fee of £1,499.  This means you have to borrow £75,000 or more for the fee to be 1.99%.   On lower loans the percentage will be much higher, so if you were only to borrow £15,000 the fee would be 10% !

It is little stings in the tail like this that make me sceptical about equity release.   It is not a lie, but, it doesn’t tell the complete picture.

More research is needed and I’ll write about it again in a few weeks ………..

Posted in ELDERLY MARKET, Grey Products | Tagged | 1 Comment

Cloud Surfing – Alaska with Cap

GrumbleSmiles was set up to provide innovative answers to tackling the problems of loneliness in later life.    Many older people are less able to get out and about, which can be the first steps towards a life of isolation.

My travel around the clouds continue (you can see more of my travel adventures by clicking on CLOUD SURFING in the TAG CLOUD).   Today I invite you to join me on a trip to unknown destinations around the world and an opportunity to talk to new and interesting people.    All at no cost and from the comfort of your own armchair.

We are going cloudsurfing to Alaska.

Courtesy of a blogger and photographer Cap Chastain.    Cap’s blog is one of the best I have found, it’s called “Bobba Caps Doxology”.

 

 

 

This is what first caught my eye.  A gentle walk in the woods and some of the amazing wildlife.  But it makes a great adventure story.  So click on the link below and you’ll see what I mean.

 

 

http://bobbacaps.blogspot.com/2018/06/jun-10-18-walk-in-woods-near-death.html

Cap who is 80, but looks much younger, has had a really interesting life travelling around the USA and the rest of the world.  I will publish more about Cap’s travels in later blogs.  For now all I will say is that I am glad he survived his latest adventure and I look forward to joining him on some of his other travels.

 

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Equity Release Revisited

I first wrote blogs about this subject in 2012 and then again in 2015. ( You can find my earlier posts by clicking on Equity Release in the TAG CLOUD).

The use of this type of borrowing has grown substantially since then, so I thought I should take another look at it.   In principle I am in favour of older people being able to use the value of their property to secure a better lifestyle for themselves.  I have long advocated that people should be able to do this, as later life is not an easy option for many older people.   Indeed I once went to 10 Downing Street to lobby Professor Julian Le Grand, a financial advisor to the then Prime Minister – Tony Blair.   I advocated that the Government should underwrite Equity Release to enable interest rates to be lower and also to regulate some of the dubious practices in the industry.

But there is a BUT, and it is a big BUT.  

Is it good value for money ???      I have rehearsed these arguments in my earlier posts, so l won’t repeat them all here.   My purpose now is to see what has changed in the last five or six years.

The use of equity release mortgages in the UK has more than doubled  according to The Equity Release Council ——- which is a front for major Equity Release providers —— from around £1.4 billion in 2012 to over £3 billion in 2017.

Adverts for Equity Release concentrate on image but are short on facts.  They focus on providing for important needs such as home adaptations, but they also show how you can cash in on your piggy-bank of a home.  The images they use are of you living the high life ——- everything from home extensions to holidays, to funds for family or education for grandchildren.

Nothing wrong with that——— why not enjoy your hard-earned wealth ?

But you need your wits about you when you take out an Equity Release mortgage.  The adverts on the telly and in the press don’t go beyond the glossy images but you have to be a detective to find the hard information behind them.   Why would this be if it’s all so above-board and such a good deal ?

No worries.   They will send you a friendly advisor to explain the full glories of their proposition and after that I’m sure 80 year olds will have no difficulty understanding the difference between life-time mortgages and home reversion plans and provisions for draw downs.   Oh, and the different interest rates offered between each Equity Release provider and how your age is relevant. And the state of your health and your partners health.  And the difference between fixed and variable interest rates and whether you will repay interest or not.   It’s no more complicated than that !  Just a few simple questions, which should only take an hour or two !

But, you have also got to remember there are setting-up costs like solicitor’s fees and valuer’s charges and financial advisor’s commissions and the lenders setting up fee.   They all have to be paid before you get your hands on these new-found riches.  But don’t concern yourself it can all come out of the loan or you can even roll it into the loan an never know you have paid it.    Magic !

But, this is all very well as long as the tax man agrees …… and so long as you die suddenly before the money runs out.

Because if you find yourself needing money for care, the taxman will want to review your earlier spending and he may not think your ten holidays in Spain were essential; nor that your luxury conservatory was critical to your housing needs.   Nor the brand new classic soft top car that you always wanted, with the personalised number plate was necessary to replace your old Ford Fiesta.   Let alone the three colour televisions, complete with Sky Sports and Netflix and Dolby surround sound system.

Better get a ‘social prescription’ from your GP to say it was essential to combat your loneliness and depression.

I’m sure 80 year olds will have no difficulty understanding all of this but over the next few weeks I intend to look more deeply into it and then I will write a follow-up to this rather sceptical view of Equity Release.

To be continued……………

Posted in ELDERLY MARKET, Grey Products | Tagged | 2 Comments

Cloud Surfing – Scotland

GrumbleSmiles was set up to provide innovative answers to tackling the problems of loneliness in later life.    Many older people are less able to get out and about, which can be the first steps towards a life of isolation.

My travel around the clouds continue (you can see more of my travel adventures by clicking on CLOUD SURFING in the TAG CLOUD).   Today I invite you to join me on a trip to unknown destinations around the world and an opportunity to talk to new and interesting people.    All at no cost and from the comfort of your own armchair.

We are going cloudsurfing to Scotland.

Courtesy of a blogger and photographer Lisa Carnochan who mainly writes a blog about fashion.  She’s based in San Francisco.

 

 

Below is a very atmospheric photograph of her trip to Scotland which she made with her son in August 2017.  It’s well worth virtually travelling with her to see some of the sights of Scotland’s Highland’s islands and cities through the eyes of an American abroad.

Her trip was done a year ago and you can tell by the warm clothing she is wearing, that the weather in Scotland is nothing like the hot house climate we have had during the summer of this year.  You can follow the rest of her trip by clicking on the link below the photograph.

 

 

 

http://amidprivilege.com/2017/08/weeks-scotland-england-grownup-son/

My thanks to Lisa Carnochan for allowing us to travel with her.

In the weeks ahead, I will publish more blogs and photographs from my cloud surfing travels.

 

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Cloud Surfing – North Carolina

GrumbleSmiles was set up to provide innovative answers to tackling the problems of loneliness in later life.    Many older people are less able to get out and about, which can be the first steps towards a life of isolation.

My travel around the clouds continue (you can see more of my travel adventures by clicking on CLOUD SURFING in the TAG CLOUD).   Today I invite you to join me on a trip to unknown destinations around the world and an opportunity to talk to new and interesting people.  All at no cost and from the comfort of your own armchair.

We are going cloudsurfing to North Carolina in the Spring.

Courtesy of a blogger and photographer Barbara Rogers.  She has a lot in common with my career history, as before she retired she was an Activity Director in a retirement village.  Now she makes beautiful pottery and writes an excellent blog called “Alchemy of Clay”.

 

 

 

The photograph on the left is one illustration of a walk near Lake Tomahawk which Barbara did on the 3rd May this year.  You can see the rest of this blog by clicking on the link below.

 

 

 

 

 

http://blackmtnbarb.blogspot.com/2018/05/colorful-walks.html

 

 

This is another trip Barbara made in 2017 to Bean Station, Tennessee.  The blog contains some really interesting descriptions of the early history of settlers moving from the Appalachian Mountains into the Wild West.

 

http://blackmtnbarb.blogspot.com/2017/07/taverns-and-gathering-places.html

Barbara Rogers’ whole blog is very well illustrated and has some excellent photographs of her ceramics as well as some great photographs of nature.  The site is well worth a visit and can be found on the link below.

http://blackmtnbarb.blogspot.com

In the weeks ahead, I will publish more blogs and photographs from my cloud surfing travels.

 

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Floodgates of Death

This post follows from my previous two blogs “National Death Service” and “Polly Toynbee certainty”.

It is just a matter of time now before they open the Floodgates of Death.    Legitimise assisted suicide and inadvertently condemn a generation to an early passing.  To qualify for an early death, all you will have to do is one of the following:-

  • Be spotted on a Zimmer frame crossing the road.
  • Be slow in the checkout queue at Tesco.
  • Dare to turn up at A & E.
  • See your GP more than once in a year.
  • Going to a Rolling Stones concert.
  • Nod off in the arm-chair.

How could they have guessed that the songs of their baby boomer generation were so prophetic:-

  • Did “The Who” really mean what they said in their song “My Generation”, when they blasted out the words “I hope I die before I get old”?
  • Did “The Beatles” know more than we thought about getting old when they said “will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m 64”?
  • In 1971 when “The Rolling Stones” rocked with the song “Sister Morphine”, did they really know the consequences of the words:-                                                                               “Here I lie in my hospital bed
    Tell me, sister Morphine, when are you coming round again?
    Oh, I don’t think I can wait that long
    Oh, you see that I’m not that strong”

Of course there will be other consequential damages :-

  • Nobody to look after the grandkids
  • Specsavers will probably go out of business.
  • So will hearing aid salesmen and walking stick makers.

And unintended consequences :-

  • Church congregations may decline significantly.
  • But there will be many more funerals to go to.
  • House prices might fall as more properties are released onto the market.
  • Drug companies’ profits will fall dramatically with less people to pop pills.

But also some new business opportunities  :-

  • Cruise liners could offer “final solution voyages” ending with burial at sea.
  • or “Death in the clouds” — you could opt for sky diving without a parachute.

All this because we don’t cherish the lives of old people as much as we should.

Posted in Assisted Suicide | Tagged | 4 Comments

Polly Toynbee’s Death Bed

This post follows on from my blog last week about the “National Death Service”.

I wasn’t the only one to take note of the Jones report on early deaths at Gosport Hospital.    Just days after its publication, Polly Toynbee, writing in the Guardian, had already reached some firm conclusions about the implications of the reports findings.    She has long been a champion of the case for assisted suicide.

After reading about the power over life that is entrusted to GP’s, which led to the premature death of up to 650 elderly people,  she concludes that we should legalise assisted suicide for all doctors.   I think the knee-jerk reaction of that decision, defies all common sense.

She caveats her proposal by at least saying that  “people should be fully alert”  when making their choice to die.  Therein lies the problem. Who decides when you are “fully alert” ?

  • Two doctors, one of whom in most cases will have never seen you before you were admitted to hospital and the other will probably never see you but rely on the word of the first doctor?
  • or A high court judge, who at best can only administer the case on paper to make sure the boxes are all ticked.  I don’t think they will do hospital or home visits ?
  • or Your loving relatives who are wondering how long they can pay the costs of care, or when they will get their inheritance ?
  • or A hospital manager desperately trying to find a spare bed for the next elderly patient waiting in a corridor in A&E.
  • or Your solicitor when you write your living will, maybe several years before you are at a low ebb.
  • or You yourself, when you have reached the depths of depression, ………… or are just lonely,………… or thinking you are a burden on everyone else.

It could be any or all of those reasons, but surely you need greater certainty to decide a death sentence.

I have written about assisted suicide many times in my blog (you can see all the earlier posts on this subject by clicking on “Assisted Suicide” in the TAG CLOUD).  I have always been on the opposite side of the debate to Polly Toynbee but not with the same degree of certainty that she seems to have about legalising the process of assisted dying.  It has been the subject of much discussion in the House of Lords but a change in the current law has never been accepted in the House of Commons.

There has always been a quiet collusion between doctors, patients and their relatives about the final days of people’s lives and though it is not strictly legal, no prosecutions have resulted from this, as far as I am aware.  I support and accept this position, provided there is the involvement of all the parties.

However, with every case of abuse of the process, like the current one at Gosport Hospital, or the earlier example of Dr Harold Shipman, or the widespread adoption of the Liverpool Pathway protocol, the move to legalising assisted suicide gets ever closer.  What’s more the inquiries that follow such abuses, inevitably create a climate of fear among doctors which prevents them from taking compassionate action for individuals.

Posted in Assisted Suicide | Tagged | 3 Comments