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When the Family Home Needs to Sell

| Nov 22, 2020 | Estate Planning |

When a parent enters into assisted living or a nursing home, their home is often sold in order to facilitate the new living arrangements. It an unfortunate reality, and has been for some time now, that elderly care such as assisted living, memory care, and nursing homes are expensive and many are unable to afford the transition without selling their home.

However, what do you do when the home must sell but all parties are not in agreement, or a family member is still living in the home?

Lack of Agreement

Homes are sentimental objects, and understandably so. Many elderly folks find that even though assisted living may be the right and necessary move, they just can’t bear to leave their home. It is a difficult transition to make and is often fraught with emotion and turmoil, not only for the person leaving the home but for other loved ones as well.

If the homeowners can’t or won’t agree to leave but a child, grandchild, or caregiver is trying to convince them to make the move to assisted living, there may not be much that can be done. You have to wait for agreement, or wait for a medical emergency to cause the shift, which is not ideal in any way.

If the cause of the disagreement is a child or sibling of the child providing care, then the decisions must come down to the person listed as holding power of attorney or the successor trustee under a revocable living trust. This is why it is so important to choose your representatives with care. Who will advocate for you? Who will provide the best quality care for you and ensure your safety and security if you are unable to advocate for yourself? Choosing a representative unwisely or for emotional reasons can land not only you, but other family members in more stress and anxiety than would be wanted at a time that is already the peak of stress and anxiety.

Relatives Living In The Home

If the family member is a minor or requires guardianship, there is likely already some kind of written protection for them in the event that the homeowner needs to move out. The minor would likely go to live with another family member or guardian, or that guardian would be allowed to move into the home to provide care, depending on the terms of the written arrangement.

If the adult family member living in the home is a child, grandchild, or other relative, there should be some kind of written agreement in place. This protects the relative as well as the homeowner. The written agreement can be a rental lease, a co-living agreement, a caregiving agreement, or some other format, but there should be something in writing which states the expectations.

If the relative living in the home is a spouse or partner, then they probably have a legal right to remain in the home or to sell it as needed and determine alternate arrangements for themselves. Depending on the financial situation, however, the spouse may not be able to afford to live in the home and have the finances bear the cost of assisted living as well. In that case, the spouse may also move into assisted living so the house can be sold. Many assisted living facilities have suites available for exactly this purpose.

Talk with a qualified estate planning attorney to discuss your options or concerns, and never hesitate to ask questions.