Moving to a senior living community is an exciting time. While visions of your new maintenance-free home, on-site restaurants, a booming social life, transportation services – and the peace of mind of in-house care and assistance – dance in your head, it’s important to dot your legal i’s and cross your future self’s t’s.
“Today’s independent seniors are embracing the freedoms, worry-free lifestyle, conveniences and amenities offered in modern senior living communities,” says Kelly Carroll, Director of Community Relations at YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, a senior living community offering Independent Living with Supportive Services, Assisted Living and Memory Care in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida. “Making sure their finances and legal affairs are in order from the get-go allows them to relax and fully enjoy this next chapter in their lives.”
Here are four legal considerations to add to your to-do-before-signing-a-contract list.
• Understand Your Contract
Owning your apartment may be a good option if you’re planning on being there for a long time and if ownership will provide better long-term value than renting. But owning requires a hefty entrance fee, different types of contracts cover different services and levels of care, and refund policies vary by community – which could tie up your assets and make moving difficult should you change your mind.
Learn more about how Continuing Care Retirement Community (or Life Plan Community) contracts typically work.
• Estate Planning Issues
If you choose to buy, make sure you know what you can legally do with the property now and in the future. This can be tricky because there are different types of buy-ins; in some, you own the unit outright, while in others, you buy into the community with percentages of your initial entrance fee returned to you or your inheritors. If you own the apartment outright, it may be difficult to sell if demand has dropped, or it may be a hassle for your heirs if they live far away. If the plan is for your adult children to move into the apartment, they will have to meet the community’s age requirements (usually 55+ or 62+) and perhaps satisfy other criteria. If they are not eligible for residency, they would have to sell the apartment. Consult an elder law attorney with experience in senior housing regulations in your state.
2. Know Your Hidden Costs and Rate Change Policies
Whether renting or buying, prospective residents should always ask which services and amenities are and are not included in the contracted entrance or monthly fee and how much they cost. Also ask for a schedule that reflects when price increases take effect and how much notice is given prior to non-scheduled fee increases.
3. Be Aware of Involuntary Discharge Policies
There are a few reasons a resident may be asked to leave a community. Perhaps they become highly disagreeable or they present a danger to themselves and others. Or maybe that person’s healthcare needs exceed the community’s ability to deliver optimal care. (Some senior living communities, like YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, offer a continuum of care that includes assisted living and memory care services, so an independent living resident can stay in the community longer and as needs change.) If a resident is involuntarily discharged from, or asked to leave, the community, they and their families typically have legal recourse, even in states that lack laws that pertain specifically to such discharges. Familiarize yourself with local policies and research healthcare attorneys you can call if this happens.
4. Update Your Legal Documents
• Ask the individual(s) you chose to serve as your healthcare proxy and power of attorney if they are still willing and able to act on your behalf. If your senior living community is far from your current home, consider assigning a trusted person in the new location to take on these responsibilities.
• If you are moving to another state, your old will may need to be updated to be in accordance with that state’s estate and probate laws. If you sold your house or other assets, such as a business, these items should be removed from your will. If you still have your home or business, have a legal succession plan in place or document how proceeds from its sale shall be distributed.
• If you aren’t living close to your inheritors, consider setting up a trust instead of a will. A trust is much easier to administer from a distance (especially when different state laws are involved) and provides more privacy and ease of transfer at the time of your passing, thus avoiding probate proceedings and related fees and delay.
• If you are moving out of your current area, you will also likely need to establish a new network of professionals, including doctors, financial advisors and an estate planning attorney with access to and knowledge of local healthcare and long-term care planning resources. Ask for referrals from current residents in your new community and research them online.
• Remember to give your new doctors and the local hospital a copy of your advance directives to be scanned into your medical chart. Also provide a copy to your community’s Health Services Director and keep a copy in your new home that will be easy for others to find in the event of an emergency.
• Talk with your loved ones about your retirement plans, healthcare and residency wishes. Your life can change significantly in a short time. Review your legal documents every two to three years or whenever you or your proxies experience a major life event.
“Fully understanding what they’re signing up for will protect seniors’ wallets and rights while providing the information they need to choose the perfect community for their lifestyle and retirement goals,” says Kelly Carroll from YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens.
Learn why our residents are glad they chose YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens as their retirement destination. Give us a call at 561-214-8549 today!
Inspired • Engaged • Fulfilled
Offering Independent Living with Supportive Services, Assisted Living and Memory Care, YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens was designed specifically with residents in mind. We know your life is shaped by family, friends, hobbies, passions and more, so we’ve created a community where you can enjoy comfort, independence and engagement, all while having the peace of mind of 24-hour support and the freedom to define your own lifestyle. Here, we shape each thing we do around you, from your routines and interests to your choices and preferences, to create an inspiring lifestyle that fits your life perfectly.
Because we are completely shaped around you, our residents get more of out their lives. With exceptional care delivered by a dedicated and compassionate team and a fulfilling lifestyle full of choice and convenience, residents have the support they need to live as independently and engaged as possible.
Each day holds something new for residents. Whether they are enjoying our exclusive activities, learning something new or simply engaging in our YourStory programming, we create an individual experience centered around each resident. Do you enjoy making new discoveries and trying new hobbies, simply want to continue the hobbies you love or enjoy some time to yourself to relax? At YourLife™ of Palm Beach Gardens, the choice is up to you.
Call us at 561-214-8549 for more information or to schedule a virtual tour today.