Keeping the Multi-Generational Home in the Family

 

Family is important. There is great value in retaining our lifelong bonds with people who share our DNA, the people we grew up with, and the people who raised us. In fact, there is a growing trend of multiple generations of family not just saying close, but actually living together. This doesn’t just include children moving back in with their parents right after college. The interesting trend is that more adult, professional couples are moving in with their parents.

A multi-generational home is a household in which multiple generations of adults reside. For some, this simply involves purchasing a house with extra bedrooms. For others, home builders are actually offering customized houses and floorplans catered to multi-generational living, sometimes referred to as “in-law arrangements”. Some homes have extra bedrooms and bathrooms and an oversized kitchen. Other homes, with an emphasis on maintaining some physical boundaries include separate entrances, separate living quarters, and separate kitchens.

For families who desire this sort of arrangement, there are numerous benefits. The family literally remains close. Grandparents can watch the children while parents work and further their careers. Grandparents and children can live an irreplaceable experience and build their relationship, while also allowing the family to save money on expensive daycare programs. In addition, as grandparents age and their medical needs become greater, the next generation can be there to help. And significantly, both generations save money by combining their finances to put a down payment on the house and pay the mortgage.

Before entering into this arrangement, I would recommend first speaking with an estate planning attorney to make sure that everybody is on the same page. This is because there are some serious implications that must be considered.

Whose Name is on the Title?

This is important. If both generations are on the title of the house, then the house may safely bypass probate upon the passing of the older generation. If the multi-generational house is solely in the older generation’s name, then several risks exist:

  • Upon the passing of the grandparent, the property will have to go through probate on a testate or an intestate basis. This means that other adult children who do not live in the home and who did not contribute to the care of their elderly parent on the same level may have an equal claim to the property. Or worse, the family home will have to be sold to satisfy creditors or other heirs.
  • Eldercare and qualifying for government benefits. Elder care can be exorbitantly and prohibitively expensive for most families. This is why so many families rely on Medicaid to pay for long-term medical care. However, there are incredibly strict financial requirements that must be met to qualify for federal health coverage. Owning or co-owning a multi-generational home may disqualify a person from Medicaid in the future.

In addition, estate planning with a multi-generational home must also account for other adult children—you are not living with them, but still want them to be provided for. Your living situation and what you plan to do with your share of the house may create resentment regarding one of your most valuable assets.

Contact The Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas

Estate planning can be incredibly complex, especially if you are living in a multi-generational home. There are options, such as a trust or life estate, that can simultaneously facilitate your estate planning goals and your desire to live with family members. You should speak with an estate-planning attorney. I have been an attorney in this field for over two decades and can provide you with helpful, relevant legal advice that is tailored to your needs. Contact the Law Offices of Robert S. Thomas at 847-392-5893 for an initial consultation or visit our website today.

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