What to do if a lone parent is moved into a residential/nursing home permanently

publication date: Sep 20, 2009
author/source: Kate Faulkner, Property Expert and Author of Which? Property Books
This is such a tough time for everyone. Sometimes it’s a relief all round, other times it can be very tense. Depending on your circumstances, you have two courses of action: to sell the property or rent it out.

Whether you decide to rent out the property or sell it often depends on three factors:-

1.    Is your parent ‘happy’ to let go of the property or do they still think they will come home at some stage? This can be the case especially if people have dementia.

2.    The state of the market. If the market isn’t particularly buoyant, for example at the moment, then it might not be the ideal time to sell.
3.    Whether you and your parent want to sell the ‘family’ home.

Essentially, if you haven’t already, you’ll need to deal with issues such as ‘Power of Attorney’ to allow you to take over your parent’s affairs. The Alzheimer’s Society explains this quite well, although your parent doesn’t need to have dementia to have a Power of Attorney, but you will need their consent.

It is important to speak to your parent on a ‘good day’ and ask them what they would like to do, explaining all the different options and the pros and cons of each of them.

Pros and Cons of Different Options

Buying your Parent’s Home
You might decide to rent out your own home (or sell) and buy your parent’s home instead as it might be bigger, and just what you are after. Before you do this, you need to talk to a legal expert and an inheritance tax expert to find the best way for you to do this, for your circumstances.

Sometimes this option can be a real bonus to a parent as when they come to visit they are still coming back to their own home. However, it’s more complicated if there is more than one sibling.

Your parent can come back for visits to their own ‘home’.
May mean you secure the property you want for your family.

Difficult option if you have brothers/sisters as you might not be able to agree on a fair settlement.
Need to seek tax and legal advice which will cost several hundred pounds.

Equity Release
If you don’t want to sell your parent’s home now and renting it out won’t cover care fees, then you could consider releasing some equity until you decide what you want to do longer term.

For more information about equity release, read our Equity Release guide.  Make sure that any company you contact about equity release is a member of SHIP.  

Relatively easy and quick to secure funds
Can help if money is tight during a stressful time

Can be more costly than selling up or renting
It’s not an instant solution, so will take some weeks to set up

Selling your Parent’s Home
In some cases you may have little choice but to sell the home to help fund your parent’s costs of being in residential/nursing care. There have been some media reports of people having to sell their homes to fund their hospital care.

Makes a clean break with the home so your parent can move on.
The money can help support your parent while in care, helping to choose which home they go into.

May be too stressful for your parent to let go of the property.
If selling in a poor market, it may mean that it takes a while to sell the property and you have to sell at a discount to find a buyer.

Renting out your Parent’s Home
This might be a good option if your parent hasn’t yet accepted that they need to sell their home, or it’s the right thing for them. It may also be helpful if the market isn’t very good and it’s taking some time to sell a property.

Leaves your options open so you have some time to decide what to do with the property.
Can help fund care costs if required.

Renting a home requires checks and changes to the property and will incur costs prior to renting.
Tenants could cause problems or damage the property.

Read the next article in the series What are your options if you have one poorly parent and one well parent?

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