“If family members are anxious about each other, sometimes it seems it might be easier if they simply joined households. This is not just due to COVID-19.”
Not that long ago, multigenerational living was how most people lived. Since people are living longer, it may become the norm again. In times of crisis like these, says the article “Moving ahead during coronavirus,” from The Mercury, many parents and adult children are combining family units to care for each other.
Parents might move in with their son or daughter’s family. The adult children and their spouse and children may also come to live with Mom and Dad. It is not just about parents and children, since siblings also decide it’s better for everyone to live closer.
If family members are considering combining households, they need to create a plan for important issues. Who will pay for what, what is the back up if the arrangement does not work and what boundaries will be set, so that the children and their parents have a sense of privacy?
Conversations about how this arrangement relates to the parent’s overall estate plan also need to take place. Will parents fund the entire household, if one or more adult children are not working? Will there be expectations of eventual re-payment? How does the household pay its bills and who will be responsible for what chores?
An important question to address, is the issue of a parent’s gifting assets to the adult child. If the long-term plan is for the parent to apply for Medicaid, it will be important to plan any asset transfers to avoid having the parent become ineligible for long-term care coverage.
It’s easy for this kind of joint living arrangement to be derailed by misunderstandings and expectations that are not discussed. Writing out a document with the help of an estate planning attorney can make the discussion more concrete and ensure that the agreement will complement and not conflict with the estate plan. Every situation is different, and what works for one family may not work for another. Having an outside professional involved can reduce the emotional aspect and clear the way for a happy arrangement that works for everyone.
Reference: The Mercury (July 28, 2020) “Moving ahead during coronavirus”