Helping your Parents Downsize

Bigstock-Downsize-70763308 “People are not relying on the way things used to be.”

Theauthor of aChicago Tribune article titled “Don't want to burden your children? Plan now,” wrote that his parents, who are in their early 60s, moved from their old five-bedroom home to a two-bedroom house. In addition to being way too big, the old house had problems and needed maintenance and repairs. The new place is newly renovated with all new mechanicals and a smaller yard. Plus, it's in a more walkable neighborhood with friends and family nearby.

Downsizing is emotionally and logistically difficult. It is wise to do so while you are young, healthy retirees. In more traditional times, older folks would be cared for until the end of their lives by children and extended family. However, times have changed.

Part of this changing perspective is from "the triple-decker sandwich," where baby boomers are facing retirement themselves and have to also care for their elderly parents—plus manage relationships with their own children.

The number of Americans needing long-term care is expected to double in the next 30 years, and a recent study of Medicare patients found that out-of-pocket costs at the end of life were highest for patients with dementia. These people require help with daily living, often for years—most of whom aren’t covered by public programs.

Here are some ideas on how to address this issue:

Downsizing. If you're in a large, expensive home in a car-dependent neighborhood, downsizing now lets you limit expenses while maintaining independence longer. Proximity to family and friends is also very important. Even though 89% of respondents in the survey said they'd wanted to stay in their current home, they still found the option of a smaller home to be much more preferable to a nursing home or assisted living.

Invest in long-term care insurance. If you want to be cared for in your home, find an insurance policy that covers that type of care as part of your retirement planning. The younger and healthier you are, the cheaper these policies are going to be.

Talk to an estate planning attorney, preferably all together. An experienced elder law or estate planning attorney can sit down with the whole family. They should have expertise in intergenerational wealth transfer, inheritance, and estate planning.

For more information about estate planning, please visit my estate planning website.

Reference: The Chicago Tribune (November 14, 2015) “Don't want to burden your children? Plan now”

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