What to Do When Moving a Loved One to Assisted Living
Quentara Costa is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) specializing in elder care and family planning.
Below are three things to consider when moving a senior loved one into an assisted living or nursing facility:
1. Identify How You Will Afford It
Most assisted living is private pay. Ideally, you should plan ahead and consider the totality of your elder’s assets and income. Typically elders have equity in their home. You need to consider that equity, along with any social security, pensions, bank and investment accounts.
If you wish to take advantage of local community assistance for low-asset individuals — such as that offered by Andover’s Atria Marland Place — you should be aware of the 5-year look back period. Because how your loved one’s money is moved in the 5 years before they move to assisted living may affect eligibility for this benefit.
2. Ensure Your Family is on The Same Page
Every family member must know their role in the transition. Siblings often share responsibilities. One makes healthcare decisions (health care proxy) and one has durable power of attorney responsibility. When the house is in a Trust, a separate sibling may be designated as Trustee. It’s important to get these roles settled and documented appropriately.
Everyone must understand their responsibility. This is especially important when selling the home asset. I heard of one closing issue where only the sibling with durable power of attorney showed up to sign documents. They couldn’t close because the sibling named on the Trustee certificate did not attend. The siblings simply didn’t understand their roles and weren’t prepared properly for the closing.
3. Identify The Best Option for Care
There are many types of assisted living facilities. You need to understand what each offers and how you pay for those services.
Traditional assisted living facilities, such as North Andover’s Brightview and Ashland Farm, are month-to-month. Payments are made like rent. Services are mostly all-inclusive and you add more care and amenities (such as, memory support and incontinence management) when needed.
Another option is a Continuing Care Retirement Community (CCRC), such as North Andover’s Edgewood. You purchase a unit upfront (typically requiring a significant investment) and live within a campus-like environment. While 90 percent of your initial investment eventually returns to your estate, you still pay monthly payments for care. These monthly payments usually start off lower than a traditional assisted living facility. The payments increase as you add services, much like ordering from an a la carte menu. Your elder needs to be in qualifying health to enter a CCRC. If you wait too long, your options may be limited to only traditional assisted living facilities.