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What are our housing options as we age?

An important component of any estate plan is deciding where one will live. Housing is one of life’s basic necessities.   While many people will not make the connection between their housing choice and their estate plan, the smarter choice is to consider your options.   Depending on what stage you are in your life, your housing options can vary greatly and significantly impact your finances.

In his famous book entitled, “You Can’t Go Home Again,” Thomas Wolfe describes the nostalgic feeling of returning to your hometown after being away for a long time. That feeling is quickly replaced with frustration. While most of the buildings are still the same, many of the people are no longer there or have different memories. Things that you thought were permanent have changed as time marches on.  

The same is true with your housing choices as you progress through the different seasons of your life.

Family Home

When we get married and start our family, one must decide whether they want to live in the biggest house they can afford or whether they want to live in a smaller home based primarily on how much room they really need. While there is no right or wrong answer, each choice may have consequences as to where you will live in the next phase of your life.

For example, for the family living in the comfortable two-story colonial home with full basement, will you want to continue living in that home when the kids grow up and move out? Or will you decide to downsize and move to a smaller 1- story home that is more manageable?

Alternatively, if you start out in a smaller home without the trappings of a larger home, you may realize that you don’t need to downsize even after the kids have grown and moved out.  

Many families opt out of home ownership entirely and simply rent an apartment, townhome or single family home.

There are no right or wrong decisions; it is simply a matter of choice based upon your current comfort level and the preparations you make for down the road.

Age Restricted Communities

One thing is certain; there are many different housing choices, as we get older. One choice is the “adult” or “over 55” communities. These communities cater to active adults who are healthy, independent and interested in the social benefits of living among people with similar tastes and lifestyles. These communities have a common preference of not having young people reside in the development. It is important to check on the regulations as to what exactly is permitted in these communities.

Assisted Living

Many families pursue other housing options when one of the family members needs help on a regular basis. Depending on the type of help needed, one option to consider is assisted living. Most assisted living facilities help people stay as independent as possible while providing them the necessary help they may need which can include bathing, dressing, housekeeping, meal preparation or medicine management.

Nursing Homes

These facilities provide skilled nursing care for older individuals. Many facilities have doctors on staff and provide around the clock care. Services may also include different professionals including speech, occupational or speech therapists. Depending on the facility, the quality of care can vary greatly among facilities.

Importantly, if you are considering an assisted living or nursing home, please visit several as they vary greatly in price and level of services provided. Be sure to talk with staff and residents to get a clear picture of how things are in a particular facility.

So when revising an estate plan, don’t forget to consider your present living situation, and any future housing preferences you may have!

Till next time, God bless, keep smiling, when Your Legal Corner will discuss “Immigration.” Victoria M. Dalton is a dedicated Family/Elder Law Attorney with the Law Offices of Hoffman DiMuzio. Email correspondence to [email protected] or call 856-845-8243.

Please note that Your Legal Corner was created to provide educational article about the law and is not legal advice.

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Joseph J. Hoffman, Jr.
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