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OFF THE BEATEN PATH

Top 3 Considerations When Moving a Senior to An Assisted Living Facility

North-Andover-Based Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) Quentara Costa Specializes in Elder Care

Quentara Costa, principal at North-Andover’s POWWOW, LLC, is a CFP specializing in elder care and family planning. When I have clients selling the home of an aging parent, no longer capable of living independently, I connect them with Quentara for help with their parent's transition.

At Andover's Caffé Nero, Quentara explained the top 3 things to consider when moving a senior loved one into an assisted living or nursing facility.

1. How Will You Afford It

Most assisted living is private pay and Quentara said that, ideally, you should plan ahead and consider the totality of your elder’s assets and income. Typically elders have equity in their home, and you need to consider that 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 — there is a 5-year look back to receive this benefit. Thus, you need to consider the financial implications of how you move money in those 5 back years, as it may affect benefit eligibility.

2. Ensuring Your Family is on The Same Page

Every family member must understand clearly their role in the transition. Siblings often share responsibilities, with one making healthcare decisions (health care proxy) and one having durable power of attorney responsibility. When the house is in a Trust, a separate sibling may be designated as Trustee. Quentara said that it is important to get these roles settled and documented appropriately, so that everyone is clear on their responsibility. This is especially important when selling the home asset.

I shared a closing story I heard where only the sibling who had durable power of attorney showed up to sign documents and they couldn’t close because the sibling whose name was on the Trustee certificate did not attend. The siblings simply didn’t understand their roles and their real estate agent (if their was one) also didn’t prepare them properly for the closing.

3. Identifying The Best Option for Care

Quentara said that there are many types of assisted living facilities and 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, where payments are made in the manner of rent. Services are mostly all-inclusive and you can 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, where 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’ll still be responsible for monthly payments to cover the cost of maintenance and care. These monthly payments usually start off lower than a traditional assisted living facility, and scale up as you add on services, much like ordering from an a la carte menu. You’ll also need to be in qualifying health to enter a CCRC; thus, if you wait too long, your options may be limited to only traditional assisted living facilities.

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Your North of Boston Real Estate Connection

If you need to sell the home of an aging parent, please contact me. Having managed the downsizing of my mom's Andover home, I know first-hand what you go through during the process.