November 04, 2016
4 Things to Consider When Moving Your Parents Into Your Home
If your parent or parents are considering moving out of a house that is inconvenient, inaccessible, or just plain too much space for them to manage, they may be evaluating their options. If you’re thinking about whether moving them into your home is the right decision, here are a few basic things you should consider.
Space & Accessibility
One of the first things to think about is what kind of space you have. Think about what your parents’ needs and abilities are and will be going forward. Is it possible or desirable for you to create a completely separate space to allow your parents to live largely independently, or will they need more care and supervision? Whether you create separate, private space will depend on your family dynamic, your home’s physical constraints, your parents’ medical care needs, and your combined financial resources.
You may want to build or create separate space entirely, such as an accessory dwelling unit (ADU) or separate-entrance apartment on your home. These construction projects can require numerous permits and inspections, so make sure you consult with real estate or land use law advisors to ensure that these are designed and built according to code. Noncompliant units can result in fines or lower the value of your home. Make sure you allow enough time and money to complete construction before the anticipated move-in date.
If your existing space is well suited to adding your parents into your household, it may still need some updating to better accommodate their current or future physical needs. Think about whether you should make improvements like widening doorways, adding safety and comfort features like stability bars in bathrooms, or creating a main-floor master suite before they move in.
If it would be difficult or uncomfortable for your parents to move in with your family in your current home, think about whether you could purchase a more suitable home together. This can be an important piece of your parents’ estate planning. A skilled financial advisor can help you evaluate your options for maximizing returns on the purchase of a home with your parents.
Figuring out how to handle your parents’ financial needs and contributions is a big part of deciding whether cohabitating will be workable. If you plan to upgrade your home or construct an addition, would your parents be contributing to some of that cost? If your parents are financially secure, how and how much will they be contributing to your family’s expenses, i.e., your mortgage payments, property taxes, utility bills, etc.? What is their plan to cover potentially increasing levels of in-home medical care over time?
If your parents are not financially secure, will you be shouldering the entire burden of caring for them alone, or do you have siblings who will be contributing? Are there other avenues of potential funding you could explore to help bear the burden of your parents’ care, like Medicare, veterans’ benefits, other governmental assistance programs, or even charitable resources? You should sit down with your parents, discuss their long-term asset management plan, and try to answer these questions before you decide to move in together.
If you find that you have more questions than answers—maybe even more than before you started—talk to a financial professional who specializes in elder issues. You should discuss, in detail, the effects that sharing space or investing together in property will have on your parents’ estate planning and eligibility for financial assistance programs. If you end up bearing the brunt of the expense for your parents’ care, you may be entitled to claim some of these expenses when you file your taxes.
Moving in with an aging parent gives you a great opportunity to talk about some sensitive issues. One of these is making sure that each parent has a durable power of attorney (POA) in place so that you (or another designated representative) have the legal authority to make legal and financial decisions for them. Powers of attorney can be broad, giving you general permission to manage their assets and make binding legal decisions, or they can be limited in time, scope, or circumstance (e.g., only if your parent is incapacitated).
You may also look at creating a living will and/or a durable healthcare POA for your parents. Both allow your parents to designate someone they trust to make medical choices on their behalf. However, a living will is limited to life-or-death concerns, i.e., their preferences regarding whether and when to have life-prolonging measures taken. A durable power of attorney for healthcare, on the other hand, addresses a wide variety of health care decisions, like preferences against blood transfusions, and designates a representative to be your parents’ decision maker when they are incapable of making healthcare decisions for themselves (either temporarily or permanently). It can include the life support preferences you would set forth in a living will, or you can create two separate documents. Talk to a legal professional who is experienced in elder law issues about making sure you execute the documents that are right for your family so you are able to make necessary medical decisions with your parents when called upon to do so.
Changing Responsibilities and Household Roles
Finally, before making a decision to ask your parents to move into your home, talk to your own family. Discuss with your spouse and children how this will change the dynamics of your family. Clarify how much interaction you’ll expect to have with grandma and grandpa, including how much social and private time you’ll anticipate. Will you all be eating meals together and sharing household chores, or will you just be sharing space and living independent lives? How do you anticipate this relationship changing over time, as your parents require more medical assistance, supervision, and caretaking? Will you be hiring a part-time or live-in caregiver for your parents, and if so, how will they fit into your family’s routine? Talk with your family about both emotional and practical concerns related to bringing new family members into your household.
The experienced elder care attorneys at the Elder Care Law Firm can help you and your parents create a life care plan that maximizes and preserves assets. We can help you evaluate your goals and implement financial and legal plans to ensure that you and your parents have the resources you need to live together through their golden years with minimal financial stress. Come to one of our free monthly seminars to learn more and get started!Secure your free workshop seat here