So You Can’t Live At Home Anymore…

Planning for contingencies is typically one of our least favorite things to do.  The onset of the pandemic changed that for many but still there are things we procrastinate with, such as planning for the later years in life.  Many a client over the years has told me they simply can’t move out of their home because “their garage is packed to the rafters” or the “attic will take them years to clear out”.

Trouble is, you cannot plan for every possibility incident to aging.  A sudden onset illness or health crisis can result in the immediate need to re-think your living arrangements.  At that point, the decision-making might be out of your hands.  If left in the hands of children or fiduciaries, those persons are left struggling with the question of what would you want.  As among children, this can result in disagreements, ill-will and in the worst cases, legal disputes.

So, while I would never force someone to clean the attic or garage (except for maybe my own spouse), I would suggest that you ask yourself “what if” and make some decisions.  To that end, the menu of alternatives is diverse.  Every few miles you will see a senior living opportunity: over 55 communities, senior apartment complexes, assisted living and different care communities.  When thinking about this, consider what you really want.  Moreover, consider what options you can afford and what options your family may provide.

Some of the relevant issues that warrant contemplation in this scenario are:

  1. Do you want to go from one free-standing home to another in an over 55 community wherein you have to maintain the yard, roof and all that comes with home ownership?
  2. Is it better to rent? 
  3. Could/should you move in with a child and would such move include an improvement to their residence to make your residency more palatable and comfortable for all? 
  4. If you move in with a child, how does that impact your estate and the potential inheritance for your other children?  
  5. What happens if you are hospitalized and need interim help for a period of time?
  6. Did your past service in the armed forces afford you any opportunities or was your tenure as a volunteer emergency worker sufficient to entitle you to a valuable benefit insofar as long term care costs are concerned?

Of all the residential settings outside of a family home for those dependent on others for care or who do not wish to depend on family to provide care, a continuing care retirement community is often a better solution.  A CCRC offers a range of health care services for its residents, including sub-acute care which is often needed on an interim basis post illness or hospitalization as we age.

Moreover, a CCRC will typically provide quality residential and social opportunities to maintain a quality of life for the aging.  With a CCRC, as a resident’s need for care increases, the services provided correspondingly increase.  

Each one of us is different and unique.  What worked for your neighbor, sibling or friend might not be a good fit for you.  So, even if you procrastinate on cleaning the attic or garage and put off moving, at least consider what you would want for yourself and make a plan.  That way, your family or fiduciaries are simply carrying out your wishes instead of arguing among themselves and possibly souring relations.

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About the Author

Chair, Business & Tax Practice and Chair, Estates, Trusts & Wills Practice. Ms. Khaleel concentrates her practice in the representation of individuals, business owners, medical, dental and other professionals in the areas of estate planning, estate and trust administration, business succession planning, transactional and tax planning. Routinely handles matters of special needs planning including guardianship applications. Experience in complex business/estate and trust litigation matters in conjunction with the Litigation Group.

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