I’m surprised that many people are unaware of the benefits that Equity Release/Lifetime Mortgages can provide. Over the 15 years I’ve worked in financial services there are still the incorrect perceptions of, ‘I will lose my home’ or ‘my house will no longer be mine’ but there have been huge improvements and safeguards added to protect clients.

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With increasing house prices, competitive fixed interest rates and increased popularity, perhaps now is an ideal opportunity to take a look at how a Lifetime Mortgage could benefit you.

There are various reasons why clients take out these plans ranging from paying off credit card debt or mortgages, to carrying out much needed home improvements. As we live longer, many people are finding it difficult to ‘just survive’ and having considered and discounted alternatives such as moving home, they are struggling to find a long-term solution to their financial difficulties.

Recently I visited a client in her early 70s who was finding it impossible to look after her home as she wished and was now having to employ both a cleaner and an occasional gardener, something 10 years earlier she would never have considered. This is now a necessity and is adding to her monthly costs, leaving her less money to spend on herself from her pension.

So are these for you? One of the main advantages of these plans is that the amount you borrow is based not on your income, but on the value of your property which needs to be at least £60,000 and your age, as you need to be 55+. An added benefit of a Lifetime Mortgage is that you retain the full ownership of your home and are free to live in it for as long as you wish.

Improvements to these plans mean you can choose to take your money as a one-off lump sum or you can take a smaller amount now and have a reserve which you draw on in the future. If leaving money to your children is a priority, there are lenders who provide protected inheritance plans. Finally, for those wishing to make payments to reduce the amount of money owed, a number of plans have a facility to repay the interest and even some of the money borrowed!

Chris Change is based in Lincolnshire, and is an Independent Equity Release Specialist with The Right Equity Release with over 15 years experience. For help and advice you can contact him on 0800 612 6755 or visit equityreleaselincolnshire.co.uk