Before You Panic and Sell the Family Home, Talk with an Elder Law Attorney

HouseLet’s look at a difficult but very common scenario where a husband or wife has an immediate need for nursing home care. Unfortunately, the couple is financially unprepared and clueless regarding their options on long-term care. Many times a couple in this situation will think they have no choice but to sell their home to pay for that care. But before they do this, they should consult with an elder law attorney.
The Boston Globe, in its recent article, “Seniors have more options than selling their home,” says that an experienced elder law attorney can be the key to protecting your family’s health and financial well-being. This includes such assets as the family home.
An elder law attorney can show the senior couple that they have options—in most cases, they don’t have to sell their home to pay for emergency long-term care.
A couple’s money is often tied up in their house, so to fund the long-term care, they go ahead and sell it. When they sell it to qualify for Medicaid, which will cover the cost of long-term care, they exhaust the proceeds of the sale—in addition to the rest of their money. This leaves the healthy spouse—who can still live independently—with little in the way of financial security. This outlook can potentially compromise that individual’s health as well.
Before taking any action, talk with an elder law attorney and explore the options that would best meet the family’s needs. It’s critical to plan ahead. An elder law attorney will help you plan for the future to ensure your wishes on housing and health care can be satisfied.
For example, think of a couple in their late 80s with the husband needing nursing home care right away. They own a home and have about $210,000 in the bank. An elder law attorney can help the wife stay in the family home and preserve most of the remaining assets to keep her comfortable, while helping the husband receive Medicaid benefits. An experienced elder law attorney can offer assistance at any stage of a person’s life.
Don’t panic and sell your family home—speak with an elder attorney first to save it.
Reference: Boston Globe (August 19, 2016) “Seniors have more options than selling their home”

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