Bob Schulmann and his younger sister, Faye Dorn, have been concerned about their childhood home where their mom still lives. They think it is unsafe for her to live alone, so they are talking about moving their mother into an assisted living facility. However, this brings another set of problems.
“My mom’s home is too costly to maintain; the best thing is to sell it, but my sister is against it,” says Schulmann. “She just can’t part with it, at least while mom’s alive.”
As we are in the middle of the summer real estate season, some families may be pondering the same difficult decision: Should we or shouldn’t we sell mom’s home? There are many factors to consider, including financial, legal and, probably the most difficult, emotional.
“It is fairly common for family members to be attached to the home in which they grew up or that their parent lived in for a long time. However, many times it is not financially feasible to keep the home once the parent is no longer living there,” says Linda Fodrini-Johnson, MA, MFT, CMC, founder and executive director of Eldercare Services and a past president of the National Association of Professional Geriatric Care Managers. Due to many families facing this same dilemma, she has created a helpful checklist for families to run through before they make a decision whether to keep or sell their parent’s home.
It might not be necessary to sell Mom’s home because it might not actually be necessary for her to move. If the list of options is exhausted, Fodrini-Johnson recommends other items to consider before selling the home.
“Was a reverse mortgage specialist consulted to see if the home’s value can cover the cost of assisted living care? A professional care manager is a great resource to bring in to help go through these and many other questions, as well as to help with the emotional side of it all,” says Fodrini-Johnson.
Additional items on the checklist to consider before selling your parents’ home include:
• Consider renting the entire house if mom does need to move.
• Is there a family member who could provide care in exchange for a place to live? If so, who will monitor this arrangement so there is no possible elder abuse?
• Have you consulted a professional about entitlements and/or community resources that assist elders in the home?
• If your family member or their spouse was a veteran who served during wartime, did you check for benefits?
• Would technology help lower cost, protect safety, and bring in help in an emergency?