people age, they are faced with many changes and challenges. One
of the most traumatic changes may be giving up the home. To hang
onto the home, and to spend their retirement years in familiar
surroundings, many people may transfer the home to a care
provider, or a friend (a care provider). The expectation is that
the senior can live out their years in the home and be taken care of
by the care provider. In return, the care provider gets to
keep the home as part of the arrangement. If the
arrangement is not fully thought out, there is a real risk that the
senior could end up losing the home, not getting the expected care,
and end up estranged from the care provider. With proper
planning, and a carefully worked out agreement, everyone can get all
the benefits and rewards intended.
a senior thinks about transferring the home to a care provider, there
may be some understanding that the senior will be taken care of for
the rest of their life and continue to live in the home.
For fear of causing hurt feelings, or being misunderstood, neither the senior
nor the care provider will discuss in any detail some of the critical
issues surrounding such arrangements. Often the only people
aware of the arrangement are the two people involved; other members of
the family are never made aware of the details. This
silence can cause problems between the care provider and the family of
the senior when it comes to dealing with the estate.
you are considering such an arrangement, then you should enter into a
care agreement. A carefully worked out care agreement will make
clear the expectations of both the senior and the care provider, deal
with what happens if the agreement is not lived up to, and also have
some provisions for the unexpected or the what ifs that come up in
life. The agreement will provide protection for both
sides; this will help to reduce any misunderstandings later. The
agreement should be in writing.
are many issues that can be covered in a care agreement. Just
how involved the agreement is depends entirely on the needs and
circumstances of the individuals. But some of the issues that
should be covered are the following:
transfer of the house is a bargain and not a gift. In other
words, the care provider is expected to do something in return in
order to keep the house.
care: what is the care provider to do regarding the health care of
the senior. It may that the care provider only needs to
monitor the health care of the senior; the agreement should permit
the care provider to assume complete responsibility for the health
care of the senior if
needs: the care provider may be required to monitor the personal
needs of the senior (such as for recreation, entertainment, hygiene,
and social activities) and make suitable arrangements.
management: the care provider might be required to manage the
finances and resources of the senior. Depending on the
situation, a Power of Attorney
might be advisable.
wishes: the care provider may be required to determine the personal
wishes of the senior on certain matters and make reasonable efforts
to meet the personal wishes assuming it is practical and
of services: how the services provided are to be valued.
of agreement: how long the agreement is to stay in place and what
kind of events can result in the cancellation of the
termination: each party should be permitted to cancel the agreement
under specific circumstances.
you can see, the issues that need to be addressed are really matters
that common sense and a prudent approach would require. If
the care agreement is properly prepared, both parties will be
If you have any questions on the issues discussed above, or
on estate planning in general, please contact Sucha S. Ollek at: