A major source of anxiety that many families face is the worry that they’ll run out of money for their elder’s most basic needs.
Paying for this next phase of life is an important part of the transition. Assets are being reshuffled and liquidated. In a near panic, some folks demand unrealistic valuations on their possessions based on what they think they need for retirement, instead of what the market will actually offer for them. The market usually wins.
As a rule, the two most significant assets most estates have are 1) financial assets (IRAs, annuities, life insurance policies), and 2) real estate, the home. Selling household possessions can help reduce the cost of the transition, but they rarely provide a big payday.
In many cases there isn’t enough money to do all this from liquid resources. Family members do help out, but often no one in the family wants to be the first one to write a check, sensing that if they do so, they will be asked to continue writing ever more checks throughout this difficult open-ended process.
This section addresses that and also provides a brief overview of the more popular government assistance that is available.
Your focus should be on getting top dollar for the house, which means removing items from the home, cleaning and repairing the house, and staging it for sale. Then sell it when market conditions are good.
For those without the near-term funds needed to do the most financially advantageous things for the estate, Operation Relo offers some financing programs that may fit your situation.
- Escrow financing. If there is sufficient net equity in the home, we will perform the work required to get the property prepared for sale without some or all the needed payments up-front and fund it with by agreeing to get those funds after the house has sold. We will place a lien on the property. When the sale closes, we are paid from escrow. We’ve found this arrangement has been the icebreaker that got frozen estates moving toward closure.
- Foreclosure financing. Many homes owned by elders are facing foreclosure for a variety of reason. Sometimes the market has changed. Sometimes health issues and forgetfulness have caused the homeowner to miss tax payments or fall behind on mortgage payments. Often these properties are upside down, meaning the elder owes more than the net equity in their homes.
Our foreclosure financing program can be the right solution for families in this tough situation. This program can work for homes in a wide range of market values – from $30,000 to $3,000,000. The most important requirement is that the homeowner is a rational, responsive person who will behave in everybody’s collective interests throughout the process.
Let’s take the case where the family gets through this transition, somehow and then the elder is left with almost nothing to live on. It’s a frightening thought. Beyond whatever the family can offer, there are government safety net programs.This is a much broader topic than we can even begin to address here, but the federal, state, and local governments all have programs designed to address the largest needs of the elderly.
The noble spirit of these programs are to take on the largest expense most elders have – health care – and provide a basic income consistent with a modest, middle-class lifestyle to those who need it.
- Social Security. Most elders (and/or their spouses) have had a working life of contributing to this program, and now it’s time to receive the benefits of that investment. Social Security provides a reliable check each month to cover living expenses.
When many people hear what their monthly social security check will be, they often blanche, thinking it is too low to possibly cover their expenses. But often times this response comes from the perspective of someone who has raised a family and who remembers how expensive that is. Senior living has fewer financial demands. Instead of feeding, clothing, and paying tuition for children, now they’re only feeding themselves. They already own nice clothing. Their taxes are much lower. When stripped of all those expenses, reliable Social Security checks can be the basis of a good life in elder hood. They may go farther than you think, if a good plan has been put in place.
- Medicare. Healthcare is largest expense for most elders, and unlike most other expensive items they’ve paid for, this one usually goes up as they advance in age. Medicare was designed to address those expenses. It helps seniors live comfortably off a limited income.
- Medicaid was designed to cover the portion of healthcare costs not covered by Medicare for elderly and disabled people without the means to cover it themselves. It is a federal program administered by the states that often covers the healthcare costs not covered by Medicaid. It was put in place to benefit the elderly and disabled.
- It is also often used to pay for coverage in nursing homes and assisted living facilities. People who want to age in home are also sometimes eligible as well.
- Usually the person must spend down all of their assets to below $2,000 to qualify, but sometimes they are allowed to keep their home and a car.
Medicaid is important but complicated. We have experts who will work with you personally to develop the best plan for you.