We will be using our blog site to update our clientele on articles from the The Senior’s Choice Connection newsletter. Here below is the first article post from the newsletter.
Selling a Home if Your Parent has Alzheimer’s
Alzheimer’s can be a heart-breaking disease that robs elderly of their memory, mobility functions, and their livelihood. As a caregiver for an elderly patient, whether they are your parents, aunts/uncles, or just a client, often tough decisions have to be made. One of these may be having to sell their home so they can be moved to nursing home, assisted living facility, or in with you. Elder law attorneys say the sale of a parent’s home is an issue they receive inquiries about daily. Here’s what caregivers need to know before sticking the “for sale” sign in the yard.
A question that often arises is why can selling a parent’s home be such a complicated issue? The answer offered is that only the person who owns the house can transfer the house to a buyer, says Henry Carpenter, who is a certified elder law attorney with Bucks County Elder Law in Pennsylvania and a member of the National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys. The parent who may be incapacitated must have identified, through a power of attorney, someone who can act on their behalf, for the sale to take place. This makes it important to sit down with your elderly parent or family member when they are healthy and aware, to lay out these type of arrangements; including power of attorney or other will related details.
If a parent has Alzheimer’s, the rights that a caregiver has to sell their parent’s home is limited to legal authority. As Wesley E. Wright, a certified elder law attorney with Texas-based Wright Abshire Attorney’s says, “If the caregiver has no legal authority, then the caregiver has absolutely no right to sell the home. Period.” This is why a parent needs to establish a power of attorney before they become incapacitated. If not the child may have to end up having to apply for guardianship of their parent to get the power to sell the home. This can prove to be an emotional and expensive process.
If a child is awarded guardianship, the child needs to be prepared for the courts having to approve each step of the process. This can take months at a time, and therefore having all details laid out sooner rather than later, can prove to be beneficial in the long run. Other challenges that may arise, even if the caregiver has the power of attorney, is that the title company may still not accept a power of attorney. There have been cases where the title companies question if the parent had the capacity to sign as power of attorney when they did or they may even say the power of attorney is too old. This is what Wright also says.
If the power of attorney was recently created, the title company may still require the parent(s) to confirm the caregiver can handle the sale. As the time approaches for a caregiver to sell their parents’ home, a caregiver will likely face some tough legal issues. However, a child should not go at this task alone. The child needs to seek the advice of a reputable elder law attorney who is familiar with the type of situation you face. (Source: The Senior’s Choice Connection Summer 2015 Newsletter, http://www.agingcare.com/Articles/selling-parents-home-alzheimer-149909.htm)