If an elderly parent or parents have to go into residential care or hospital temporarily, what should you do with their home?
By Kate Faulkner
Putting a loved one into care is an incredibly emotional and stressful experience; I know, we had to do make the decision on behalf of my mum when dad was suffering with Parkinsons and dementia.
In mum's case we were lucky, she could still afford to stay in their home even when paying for dad to be in a special care home. As mum's home was big enough to create a bedroom downstairs and we had a loo on the same level, eventually as dad's illness progressed, we were able to bring him home for the last few months.
However, not everyone is as lucky as we were so this guide to the different circumstances you may find yourself in should help you discover what options are available to you.
Check what happens to their benefits Firstly, despite some horror stories, if your loved one is in a home or nursing home for however long, no one can force you (or them) to sell the property. However, what will happen, if your parent is getting financial support to help for care at home, is that money is likely to be stopped after four weeks of them being in hospital.
Have a plan of action It is important to remember if you have a loved one in temporary care and they are feeling poorly and frail, what happens to their home while they are away could be quite stressful. As a result, it is a good idea to put their mind at rest and either discuss a plan of action or let them know what you are going to do.
Keep up with bills Sadly another fact of life is that if your parent hasn't been very well, and especially if they are suffering with any dementia related illnesses, they may not have managed to keep up to speed with all their bills, such as phone, gas, electricity and TV licence. Check with each service what you can do to keep the power/line active while keeping the bills as low as possible.
Ensure their insurance is still valid Whatever you decide, the first thing to check is your parent's home insurance. If the property is going to be unoccupied for more than 30 days and you do not advise their insurance company, the insurance may be invalid. Speak to the insurance company to see what you can do or go to specialist companies who will insure the property cost-effectively.
Work out what to do with the property Once you've sorted the insurance, then it's important to decide whether you are going to leave the property empty or whether another family member might stay there (who your parent will trust), or you can consider renting the property out.
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