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Thinking of Downsizing Your Home?

Malm & LaFave, S.C. April 3, 2024

The decision to downsize a home affects millions of Americans each year, especially retirees and the elderly community. As you age, homeownership can quickly become overwhelming. Downsizing your home to an apartment, condo, or moving into an assisted living community is a great way to alleviate the stress of home upkeep. If you are wondering if downsizing is the right option for you, this blog post will discuss the benefits to downsizing as well as how a law firm, like Malm & LaFave, S.C., can assist you. 

Benefits to Downsizing

The endless physical home upkeep, rising cost of living, property taxes, utility prices, and many more stressors can make home ownership difficult. If you are debating whether to downsize your home, here are a list of potential benefits to consider:

  1. Enjoy Ideal Climates or Engaging Communities: Downsizing is a great opportunity to move to a climate or community that you enjoy. If you prefer warm weather and not having to shovel your driveway, downsizing is a great time to move somewhere warm. If you are indifferent about the weather but yearn for human interaction, choosing a senior or assisted living facility with strong community engagement opportunities could be beneficial for you. Living in a place and atmosphere you enjoy can astronomically benefit your mental health.

  2. Reduce Safety Risks in Homes: Many larger homes have multiple stories, stairs, and other dangers that can be dangerous to navigate as you age. Smaller homes, condos, apartments with elevators, and senior communities often include amenities that are safer and easier to navigate.

  3. Alleviate Financial Burdens: Prices and living costs have undoubtedly increased in the last few years and decades. Property taxes, insurance, home improvement costs, utilities, and more have become increasingly more expensive. Downsizing to a smaller home, apartment, or senior living community can greatly decrease your homeowner costs and financial stress.

  4. Be Closer to Loved Ones: Downsizing your home is an opportunity to move closer to loved ones that have settled far away from you. Being near loved ones can provide a strong support system both during and after your move. Being near and around loved ones can also improve your mental health, happiness, and reduce feelings of loneliness.

  5. Increase Personal Equity: Though the cost of living has increased, the value of homes has also increased. Selling your home can provide extra funds to invest in other life expenses, such as life-long bucket list vacations, senior living facility costs, or buying into an independent living community where you can age in place.  

  6. Increase Access to Medical Care: As you age, the need for medical care and doctor visits often increases. Many senior facilities or assisted living communities offer direct access to medical care within the facility. If you do not want to relocate to an assisted living facility, choosing a smaller home or apartment near your designated health care provider can also decrease costs of travel.

  7. Keep a family member safe: It is heartbreaking watching the decline of an elderly loved one. Deciding to make the transition to an assisted living facility can be extremely difficult, even if it is the safest option. Navigating the downsizing and moving process for these individuals is a very difficult and sensitive topic. Oftentimes, contacting an empathetic, experienced elder law attorney and other likeminded professionals can alleviate stress and ensure your loved one is protected throughout the transition.

How can an Attorney Help me Through Downsizing?

If you are looking to downsize, whether to a smaller house or assisted living facility, hiring an attorney to represent you throughout the buying/selling process can ensure you, your family, and assets are protected.

Attorneys that specialize in real estate transactions and elder law can ensure the downsizing transition to your new home is smooth and everything you imagined. Though it seems daunting, when done right, downsizing can be a freeing experience. Below is a list of ways an attorney can help you throughout this process.    

  1. Facilitate Real Estate Transactions

    Real estate attorneys can draft or review an Offer to Purchase and negotiate potential counteroffers with a buyer/seller. Attorneys have a fiduciary duty to their clients, so they always advocate for your best interests. They can communicate directly with realtors, title companies, and the buyer/seller on your behalf thus alleviating some stress that comes with downsizing. Attorneys can handle all the “legal stuff” allowing you to focus on your move.

  2. Downsizing to Assisted Living or Other Long-Term Care Facilities

    If you are downsizing to an assisted living or senior living community, contacting an experienced elder law attorney can be extremely beneficial. On top of assisting with the real estate transactions, an elder law attorney can help identify which facility may be best based on your needs and review potential Resident Agreements from a facility. If you cannot afford out-of-pocket care, and many people cannot, attorneys can assist with exploring other payment options, including Medicaid/Title 19 planning, funding a Wispact, Inc. special needs trust, and much more.

  3. Protect Your Home & Assets through Estate Planning

    After making a significant life or financial change, such as purchasing/selling a home or moving to assisted living, it is important to reevaluate your estate plan to ensure your assets are protected. Estate planning attorneys can draft a deed for your home to ensure it is properly titled. For even further protection, an estate planning attorney can draft a trust and transfer the title of your home to the trust. With the help of a pour-over will, a trust can also potentially avoid probate after you pass away. An estate planning attorney can review your assets, financial accounts, and more to ensure your assets and financials are protected before and after your move.

Downsizing can be a stressful process. The attorneys and staff at Malm & LaFave, S.C. have extensive experience in real estate transactions, elder law, negotiations, and fiercely advocating for our clients. We have contacts with renowned real estate companies across the Milwaukee and surrounding areas and are ready to assist you with downsizing your home. Contact our office today to begin exploring your downsizing options!