When an aging relative decides the time is right to move into an assisted living or continuing care facility, families face many decisions. This is often a difficult but necessary step for older individuals with trouble living independently or planning for their future needs. A recent article from Herald—Standard, “How to handle selling a home when moving into an assisted living facility,” offers suggestions to help families navigate the process.
First, speak with an estate planning attorney to have a trusted, responsible family member be named Power of Attorney. Individuals moving into assisted living may not have any cognitive problems at the time of the move. However, selling a home for a family member who develops dementia can present complex challenges. Only a person with legal capacity may transfer their home to a new owner. Having a Power of Attorney allows a family member to step in and manage the transaction without needing to go to court and have a guardian named.
Talk about the situation and the sale with the aging family member. They will need time to process the idea of selling their home and moving. Homeowners make untold sacrifices and compromises to buy and maintain their homes, so the decision to sell a beloved home is almost always very difficult and brings out a range of emotions.
Throughout this process, an open and honest dialogue about what can be achieved by selling the home and improving their quality of life will be helpful.
Sorting through belongings is an extremely hard task. A lifetime of memories and a loss of their independence are all wrapped up in the contents of a home. It will be impossible to take the entire contents into a one or two-bedroom apartment. Take the time to sort through belongings with your family members and select certain items to give them a sense of home in a smaller space.
If possible, try to pass on some items to younger family members. Most importantly, handle this process with as much compassion as possible.
Keep all relevant people involved and current throughout the process. This is particularly important if the family members are scattered in different states. Adult children who live far away and can’t be active participants in this process shouldn’t be dismissed and left out. Open communication with other family members will minimize the chances of objections when the sale and move take place.
Finally, because this is perhaps the largest and last financial transaction, make sure the sale of their home is done with an eye to their estate plan. There may be ways to minimize tax exposure for the individual and their estate plan. Confer with an estate planning attorney to avoid any missteps.
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Reference: Herald-Standard (Oct. 27, 2023) “How to handle selling a home when moving into an assisted living facility”
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