Should you sell the family home if your parents go into nursing home care?

If your parents go into a nursing home, deciding what to do with the family home can be complicated at best. You don’t want an empty house sitting around, and perhaps you don’t want to deal with renters. What’s more, you may believe your folks need the income from the house sale to help pay for their nursing home care in the long-term.

The problem is, only the person who owns the house can transfer the house to a buyer. If a parent has become incapacitated, he or she needs to have identified – through a power of attorney – someone who can act on their behalf, for the sale to take place. If the caregiver has no legal authority, then the caregiver has absolutely no right to sell the home.

Before your parents are in need of nursing home care, it’s best to have a durable power of attorney in place. In the state of Florida, a power of attorney is a legal document in which you designate someone to act on your behalf, or when you are given power of attorney to act on someone else’s behalf.  In Florida, a power of attorney must be signed before two witnesses and a notary public to be considered legally recognized under state law.

It’s different from a regular power of attorney. A regular power of attorney ends if the person it represents becomes incapacitated. That’s when a special kind of power of attorney, known as a durable power of attorney, is better. A durable power of attorney, unlike a power of attorney, is “durable,” even if a person suffers mental incapacity in the future.

A durable power of attorney is the most important estate planning document a person can have. Adult children of elderly parents need to tell their parents to include a durable power of attorney in their estate plan. A durable power of attorney can, in additional to handling all financial decisions, authorize medical care. That includes consent to proceed with or terminate all medical and surgical procedures on your behalf, including an agreement that falls under the Life-Prolonging Procedures Act of Florida.

In 2011, Florida lawmakers changed the state’s durable power of attorney law. The changes gave a durable power of attorney immediate power. Under the revised law, the durable power of attorney is signed and goes into effect immediately. There is no waiting period, including waiting until the person or loved one suffers incapacitation and cannot make financial and healthcare decisions on their own.

Our experienced and trusted estate planning attorneys have been serving Treasure Coast families for decades, and Michael Fowler is one of only nine attorneys in the state of Florida who is double board-certified in wills trusts and estates and in elder law.  Contact us for your initial consultation at one of our conveniently located offices in Fort Pierce, Stuart, Port St. Lucie, Vero Beach, and Okeechobee.