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Mortgages & Refinancing

Don't Force Mom Into a Reverse Mortgage

Putting undue pressure on a loved one is unethical, regardless of the merits of the case.

My brother is pressuring our mom to put a reverse mortgage on her paid-up home, to provide her with a monthly income to help with drug and home nursing costs. I think -- and I believe that Mom agrees -- that he and I can and should cover these expenses ourselves and keep her home equity intact. Mom's beneficiaries are my brother and me, our grandchildren, and a few charities. What do you think?

Putting undue pressure on Mom is unethical, regardless of the merits of the case, especially if your brother can afford to pay his share of her expenses. But maybe he feels he can't afford this. Is he willing to forgo his future share of Mom's home equity (and perhaps his children's share, too) in exchange for not contributing to her support now?

The three of you should meet with a lawyer and accountant and calmly examine your family resources and the pros and cons of various approaches to meeting Mom's needs.

Travel reimbursement

I am a consultant who recently landed a client in a city a day's drive from my own. The firm expects me to spend a few days there every week and has offered to pay me a flat $2,000 a month for travel and hotel expenses. I'm thinking that, instead of staying in a hotel, I'll buy a condo in that city and apply the travel reimbursement to my monthly mortgage. Does that sound okay to you?


Yes, but be sure to tell your client of your plan. You would not need lodging except for your relationship with the client, and your client shouldn't care how you spend a legitimate travel allowance. But the accounting for your condo costs and travel allowance -- what's considered a business expense and what's personal -- might be tricky, so be sure to consult a CPA.

To read more ethics advice from Knight Kiplinger, click here.

Have a money-and-ethics question you'd like answered in this column? Write to editor in chief Knight Kiplinger at