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Equity release: The lifetime mortgage process

You might think it sounds complicated, but applying for an equity release lifetime mortgage is actually pretty straightforward.

How does equity release work?

In short, equity release is a way to release tax-free cash from your home – without having to downsize. It means you can unlock the equity (or value) tied up in your home and use it to make the most of your retirement.

With an equity release lifetime mortgage (the most popular type of equity release plan), you continue to own your own home. And there are no monthly repayments either. Instead, you pay back the loan and interest through the sale of your home – which is usually when you pass away or move into long-term care.

Learn more in our equity release guide.

laptop coffee sunglasses and a notebook on a table

Before you do anything else…

If you think an equity release lifetime mortgage could be right for you, let’s see whether you could be eligible.

To be considered, you’ll need to be:

  • a UK resident
  • aged 55 or over
  • a homeowner with a qualifying property worth £70,000 or more

If you tick these boxes, that’s a great start. And if you’d like to take things further, here’s an idea of what you can expect from the process.

1. Give us a call for FREE

When you’re ready to get the ball rolling, The SunLife Over 55 Equity Release Service is here to help you on your way.

Give us a call on 0800 633 5566 – or request a callback now.

We’re here to making things as straightforward and rewarding as possible. We can talk you through the process, and book you in for an appointment with an independent expert adviser. Equity release isn’t right for everyone, so they can help you decide whether it’s the best solution for you.

2. Talk to an independent expert adviser

a couple talking with an independent expert adviser

You can choose to have your appointment over the phone or in person. Either way, you’ll be able to get tailored advice in the comfort of your own home – and you can ask as many questions as you wish.

Equity release isn’t right for everyone, which is why your independent expert adviser is there to give you the guidance you need to make a decision that works for you. After your appointment, you have the chance to go away and think about things. And the advice you’re given will be confirmed in writing before the process goes any further.

Equity release pros and cons

Hello, £25 free gift

Once you’ve attended your appointment, we’ll send you a free £25 gift voucher to say thank you. It’s just another thing that makes us different from other equity release services.

3. Attend your follow-up meeting

Once you’ve had the chance to consider the advice from your last appointment, you’ll have a follow-up meeting with your independent expert adviser.

This is your chance to ask any burning questions and seek any final clarification before you decide to proceed with the process. Remember, they’ll be there to help you every step of the way.

And when you’re ready…

4. It’s time to apply

If you’ve decided you’d like to go ahead, your independent expert adviser can help you complete your application form – which will ask for details about you, your health and your home. They can also submit it to your chosen equity release provider.

While your application is underway, the equity release lifetime mortgage provider will instruct a surveyor to value your property and check that it meets their lending criteria.

10 reasons to consider a lifetime mortgage

someone completing an application form

5. Receive your offer

The next step is for your equity release provider to make you an offer. This will based on your personal details and the valuation report – and it’ll tell you the type of equity release scheme and the amount they’re willing to give you.

If you accept, your equity release scheme will be set up for you. But before you do, make sure a solicitor checks through the offer for you.

Support from your solicitor

When you get your offer, make sure a solicitor checks through the legal details for you, and explains the ins and outs of the contract. Your independent expert adviser will provide a list of recommended specialist independent equity release solicitors for you to use.

6. Get your money

Once the equity release lifetime mortgage is complete, and you’ve accepted your offer, your funds will be released and you’ll receive your money through your solicitor.

Remember, if you still have a mortgage or any other debt secured on your property, the cash you release will pay this off first. Then, anything left over is yours to spend as you like.

How can equity release help in retirement?

7. Enjoy the retirement you deserve – on the house

Once that’s all done and dusted, you can get on with making the most of retirement. Whether you want to treat yourself to something special, live more comfortably, or lend the family a helping hand, you’ll have the funds you need to do so.

You could…

  • make home improvements or adaptions
  • top up your income in retirement
  • treat yourself to the holiday of a lifetime
  • give your family a hand with a mortgage deposit

Just be sure to seek financial advice beforehand, so you fully understand the implications.

5 ways people have spent equity release

a couple jumping together on the bed

How long does equity release take?

An equity release lifetime mortgage can be completed within around 6 to 8 weeks. Choosing a specialist equity release solicitor can help ensure your application runs as smoothly as possible, and your money is in your bank account as soon as possible. Be sure to keep this timeframe in mind if you’re planning on making any purchases.

Get your family involved

If you’re considering a lifetime mortgage, it’s wise to get your family involved. The decision to get an equity release lifetime mortgage will have an impact on them, too, as it will reduce the size of your estate and the inheritance you can leave behind.

You should talk through your plans with them, and think about bringing them along to your appointments with your independent expert adviser. That way, they’ll know exactly where they stand, and there won’t be any surprises later on.

extended family sitting together on the sofa

Whenever you’re ready, we’re here for you

For more information and to check your eligibility, call The SunLife Over 55 Equity Release Service today on 0800 633 5566 or request a call back.

Here's the information that you need to know about who we are and the other companies that we work with in order to provide our products and services.

Who are SunLife?

Phoenix Life Limited trades as SunLife and is the provider of the Guaranteed Over 50 Plan, SunLife Insurance and the life insurance policy payment option for Funeral Plans. Phoenix Life Limited’s registered office is at 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 1016269). Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

SunLife Limited distributes financial products and services and is a company limited by shares, registered office: 1 Wythall Green Way, Wythall, Birmingham, B47 6WG (registered in England, no. 05460862). SunLife Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and is entered on the Financial Services Register (registration no. 769427).

You can contact us by post at SunLife, PO Box 1395, Peterborough, PE2 2TR or by phone on 0800 008 6060.

If you choose to add Funeral Benefit Option to your Guaranteed Over 50 Plan the funeral services are arranged and provided by Dignity Funerals Limited. Dignity Funerals Limited is a company registered in England and Wales No. 00041598. VAT registered No. 486 6081 14. 4 King Edwards Court, King Edwards Square, Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, B73 6AP. Telephone No. 0121 354 1557. Fax No. 0121 355 808. Part of Dignity plc. A British Company. Dignity is not authorised or regulated for this activity by the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority but is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

Who provides the Funeral Plans?

Dignity Funerals Ltd arranges and provides the funeral services. Dignity Funerals is not authorised or regulated for this activity by either the Financial Conduct Authority or the Prudential Regulation Authority. Dignity Funerals Ltd is a member of the National Association of Funeral Directors.

The life insurance policy that pays for your funeral will be provided by Phoenix Life Limited, trading as SunLife.

Who provides My Smarter (ISA)?

My Smarter (ISA) is provided by Scottish Friendly Asset Managers Limited. Authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register, registration No. 188832. Member of The Investment Association. Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ.

Who provides the Will writing services?

Hugh James is authorised and regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA Number:303202).

The information contained on this website is based on Hugh James' understanding of the law of intestacy in England and Wales only as at April 2014. The law in Scotland and Northern Ireland is significantly different. This is for information purposes and is not intended to be legal advice.

Who provides Family Life Insurance?

SunLife Family Life Insurance is provided by Scottish Friendly Assurance Society Limited which is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority. Details can be found on the Financial Services register (registration number 110002). Registered Office: Scottish Friendly House, 16 Blythswood Square, Glasgow G2 4HJ. 

Who provides SunLife Pet Insurance

SunLife Pet Insurance is arranged and administered by BDML Connect Limited. BDML Connect Limited is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (No. 309140). Registered in England and Wales Number 02785540. Registered Office: 45 Westerham Road, Bessels Green, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN13 2QB.

Who provides SunLife Home Insurance

SunLife Home Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.

Who provides SunLife Car Insurance

SunLife Car Insurance is arranged and administered by BISL Limited and underwritten by a panel of insurers. BISL Limited are an intermediary authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority. Registered in England no. 03231094. Registered office Pegasus House, Bakewell Road, Orton Southgate, Peterborough PE2 6YS.