My brother and I are helping our 94 year old aunt (widowed)with some of her health care and finances. Her 66 year old daughter with Down’s syndrome resides with her. We are concerned about the future of our cousin, if her mother passes before her or if her mother someday may need to be placed in a nursing facility. My aunt’s wish is that her daughter continue to live in their home with a full-time caregiver. Her home is paid for and they have savings which could last for a few years for a caregiver. Could she obtain a Reverse mortgage which would allow for her daughter to live in the home until the daughter lives. She is the co-owner of the home in a trust with my brother serving as her guardian. Any advice you could give me would be deeply appreciated. Thank you so much.
Terry Says: I’m going to refer you to an attorney who specializes in elder law issues. Go to www.NAELA.org (the website of the national association of elder law attorneys). Also you might want to go to www.ProtectedTomorrows.com to get some advice. This is a very specialized area. I know that a RM is not the answer, because the handicapped child is not and probably cannot be placed directly on the title to the home, which is required by a RM. But if there is equity in the home, you want to make sure that at the death of the homeowner, the assets of the trust do not disqualify the daughter from important federal programs. The trust has to be written very carefully. I’m writing a column on the issue of protecting disabled children and adult children, so that will give you some more information.
And you will have to consider whether living in the home without her mother is really the best solution, whether you can find a competent and trusted caregiver, and whether the remaining estate will pay the property taxes, utilities, upkeep etc — without your aunt’s Social Security benefits. So please do get experienced legal help who can guide you.