Crossing Paths: The Intersection of Reverse Mortgages and Bankruptcy

89 Am. Bankr. L.J. 363 (2015)

34 Pages Posted: 15 May 2014 Last revised: 20 Aug 2015

See all articles by Tara Twomey

Tara Twomey

National Consumer Law Center; National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center

Date Written: 2015


The senior population of the United States is expected to grow rapidly over the next twenty years. Rather than enjoying their golden years, increasingly older Americans are struggling with less income, greater debt and insufficient retirement savings. The average amount of debt held by seniors has soared over the last decade. Many now rely on credit cards to cover their basic living expenses. Rising mortgage debt has compromised the use of home equity as a retirement nest egg. There are few easy solutions. Two tools available to seniors to combat financial distress are reverse mortgages and bankruptcy. Reverse mortgages allow seniors to tap their home equity to pay off outstanding debts or supplement monthly income. Bankruptcy provides an opportunity to obtain a fresh start by discharging certain debts or adjusting one’s financial affairs. The two options — reverse mortgages and bankruptcy — are not mutually exclusive. This Article explores the intersection between reverse mortgages and bankruptcy and when they can or cannot work together to assist seniors facing financial distress.

Keywords: Bankruptcy, Housing, Reverse mortgage, Senior, Debt

Suggested Citation

Twomey, Tara, Crossing Paths: The Intersection of Reverse Mortgages and Bankruptcy (2015). 89 Am. Bankr. L.J. 363 (2015). Available at SSRN: or

Tara Twomey (Contact Author)

National Consumer Law Center ( email )

7 Winthrop Square
Boston, MA 02110
United States

National Consumer Bankruptcy Rights Center ( email )

1501 The Alameda
San Jose, CA 95126
United States

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