As 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.

When 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.


If 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.

There 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:

  •  the 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. 


  • health 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 circumstances warrant. 

  •  personal 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. 

  • financial 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. 


  •  personal 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 feasible. 

  • value of services: how the services provided are to be valued.  

  • duration of agreement: how long the agreement is to stay in place and what kind of events can result in the cancellation of the agreement; 

  • early termination: each party should be permitted to cancel the agreement under specific circumstances.  

As 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 protected

If you have any questions on the issues discussed above, or on estate planning in general, please contact Sucha S. Ollek at: