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Most of us who are responsible then take the measures to fix this, if financially feasible. It requires bringing in tons of rock to fill the hole, covering it with sand and blanketing it with seed-infused covering. Although this method works, it can cost upwards of $20,000.

My particular situation is this: Although I have taken these measures to protect my bluff, my neighbors to the north have never done anything to their bluff. As a matter of fact, back in the early 1990s when their bluff broke away, rather than fix it they chose to move their house back closer to the street.

In the last couple of years, their bluff has seriously fallen even more, now affecting my bluff drastically (my steps down to the lake have given way due to the large blowout from these neighbors) as well as affecting other neighbors, as the bluff continues to fall down. These particular neighbors refuse to answer my calls, letters, etc., and have again chosen to ignore this problem, whether it affects their property or others. As a matter of fact, they have their house up for sale and it certainly is going to affect the potential sales.

Do you have any comments you can share with me? --Carol

DEAR CAROL: Yours is an interesting question. To get more information, I did a Web search and typed in "eroding beach bluffs." Would you believe there is an article on the Web dealing with erosion at Lake Michigan? This may be of interest to you.

Years ago, I had client who had a house in Martha's Vineyard, and every 10-15 years he had to move his house back away from the ocean. So I assume that it is customary (at least in some areas) to just move the house back.

However, by doing so, your neighbor has impacted on your property. I suggest two approaches. First, can you get assistance from your county? It may have a plan -- or even an ordinance -- spelling out what steps property owners must take to preserve and protect their property and that of their neighbors. Perhaps the local county attorney can bring suit against the neighbors forcing them to take the appropriate action.

Second, retain a local attorney. A strong letter should be sent to the neighbor, basically threatening to sue if proper steps are not taken to protect your home. I consider this a "private nuisance," which may be actionable in your state. Your lawyer can guide you on the various causes of action available to you.

DEAR BENNY: I have heard that both spouses do not have to be age 62 or older in order to obtain a reverse mortgage. Can you advise? --Fred

DEAR FRED: The most common reverse mortgage is insured by the Federal Housing Authority (FHA) and is known as a Home Equity Conversion Mortgage (HECM). These are available only if everyone on title is 62 years old or older.

There are some lenders who do not go through FHA who will provide a reverse mortgage if only one spouse meets the age requirements.

However, if you are just reaching age 62 (without or without your spouse), don't jump quickly into a reverse mortgage. Recent statistics show that as the baby boomers are "coming of age," more and more are opting for a reverse mortgage. In fact, according to the National Council on Aging, in 2006, only 6 percent of borrowers aged 62-64 obtained such a mortgage as compared to 2010 when this figure rose to 20 percent.

Why is this a concern? Keep in mind that when you die, move out for 12 months or more or sell, the entire balance -- including the accrued interest -- must be paid back to the lender. Of course, with most reverse mortgages, you have to pay back only up to the equity in the house.

But that's the issue: If you get a reverse mortgage early on, interest will start accruing. Accordingly, if at a later age you need to move to a retirement home, you may have exhausted all of the equity in your home and have no additional funds.

So, unless you absolutely must get a reverse mortgage at the early age of 62, give it serious thought first.

Benny L. Kass is a practicing attorney in Washington, D.C., and Maryland. No legal relationship is created by this column. Questions for this column can be submitted to

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