What Should You Do with Your Home When Transitioning to Assisted Living?
By Rhonda Underhill
When you decide to make the shift to assisted living, you're left with a very important question — what should you do with your house? While there are quite a few options, what you ultimately decide to do will depend on your personal and financial situation — especially since Medigap and Medicare will not cover assisted living. Peabody Home presents a guide that examines the pros and cons of some of your options to help you figure out the best move for you.
If you decide you don't want to keep your house at all, or your financial situation dictates it, you have the option to sell it. If you decide to take this route, many experts believe that you need to take a few steps to prepare your home to go on the market. Spruce up your landscaping, and make sure your exterior is well-maintained and attractive; it may be helpful to familiarize yourself with the local market to see how other homeowners are showcasing their properties. In your home, remove any wallpaper, repaint walls in neutral hues, and remove knick knacks and family photos so that potential buyers will be able to picture themselves living there.
Once you sell your home, you no longer have to worry about it. You'll earn money from the sale, and rid yourself of property taxes and homeowner's insurance.
Selling your home can be a long and arduous process. You run the risk of not making back your initial investment, and you may have to spend a lot of money upgrading your home before it will sell.
Leave It with a Family Member
If you're close with your family, you may be tempted to pass your house to a family member — perhaps a child or younger sibling. If you do this, it is important to make use of paperwork even if it feels awkward; setting clear lines and boundaries will protect you both and ensure that there is no confusion down the line. Consider making use of a revocable living trust, which allows you to change your mind if need be.
If you have strong sentimental attachments to your property, gifting it to your family may feel better than selling it to a stranger. This also allows you to avoid much of the hassle of selling the house, and ensures that you will still be able to visit. If you have any long standing traditions that you hold in your home, this option also opens the possibility of your family continuing those traditions.
Unfortunately, gifting your home to family comes with a number of risks and challenges. Estate Plans Plus explains you may have complicated problems with your income tax, or need to pay a gift tax. If you plan to apply for long term care coverage through Medicaid within the next five years, this may also be the wrong choice for you — Medicaid has a five-year look back period, and if you have given away your house in that time you may be disqualified for coverage.
Rent It Out
Another option is to rent out your house. If you want a more hands on approach, you could list your home on a rental site, taking on short-term renters and charging what you want. If you don't want to be quite so involved, you can utilize a property management group to handle the logistics of the rental.
Renting is a great choice if you are struggling to sell the house, or if you know you won't be able to make back your original investment. Instead of receiving one single payment, you'll be able to gain a steady income from your property.
Renting forces you to maintain your property even after you are no longer living there. It requires some financial risk, as you are allowing strangers into your home. Additionally, you will continue to have to pay property taxes and homeowners association fees.
Moving to assisted living can be stressful — there's no reason your house should add on to your stress. Thankfully, you have choices. By researching your options and talking to your family, you'll be sure to settle on a decision that's right for you.