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CHICAGO (CBS) – It’s a tax-free source of income, but only 2 percent of people actually take advantage of it.

So, who benefits the most from a reverse mortgage?

“It gave my dad the sense of independence,” Terry Savage said.

Savage, a financial expert, said a reverse mortgage can help people like her dad live comfortably in their own homes until they die.

It’s like using your home equity as another retirement savings account.

“It comes out as a tax-free withdrawal for you to live on,” Savage said.

A reverse mortgage works best for someone who owes little or nothing on the original mortgage and plans to live in the home for more than five years.

“Do your research, shop around and talk with a federally approved housing counselor,” Jason Adler, of the Federal Trade Commission, said.

Keep in mind, fees, interest rates and restrictions vary and you still have to pay property taxes and insurance.

“Failure to do those sorts of things could make the loan immediately due and could lead to foreclosure,” Adler said.

Something else to consider is when you move out of your home or die, the balance due on the reverse mortgage loan will be paid through the sale of the house.

If the home sells for more than you owe, you or your estate will get money back.

If you’ve borrowed more than the value of the home the lender keeps it.

“They can never charge your heirs more than the house is worth, you simply turn over the property to the reverse mortgage lender,” Savage said.