Is there a program that haelps renovate an aging parent's house so that it can be sold to pay for assisted living expenses?

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If you have Power of Attorney you could check with their bank. Also, you could check with an Elder Law attorney for advice. Your state may have funds for this, so check their site under aging services or a related name and look for contact information There may be federal funds, but likely they would be locally administered so you'd probably have to go through your state for that.
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Deb- The short answer is - no. Sorry to be so blunt but taking care of a home and any updates are the responsibility of the home owner and family. Often elders let repairs go because of cost and difficulty finding a trustworthy handiman. It means they save their monthly income but it's at the cost of their biggest asset, a home. I'm in the same boat and am evaluating the cost of going without the extra funds versus fixing it up. I'm finding that repairs might equal half the selling price so it's not worth it. Selling sooner and having the money to help Mom now is more important to us. My mom might live for another 4-5 years and I don't want to be saddled with paying property taxes, utilities and upkeep for property that will not benefit me. I'd rather spend my time visiting mom and enjoying her company, that's what means most to her now as well.

If the house won't sell or if you feel your parent might NOT want to sell, you can apply for medicaid (state aide, see the Money and Legal section of this site) to supplement their rent at assisted living (ALF). You must ensure the ALF accepts medicaid and, if yes, s/he might be required to share a room or apartment. The state will place a lien on the home for the total amount spent on your parent's care. So, when your parent passes away, the state will force the sale to recoup their money. However, some states make exceptions if there are dependent children or disabled or handicapped family members that need to live in the home. The best thing to do is lay out the scenario and speak with the state agency responsible for medicaid.

It's a lot to deal with but not impossible. Best of luck to you and your parent(s).

Given the current economy and real estate, any "renovations" may not increase the selling price. Your best bet is to speak with a real estate inspector first and a real agent second. (DO NOT sign up to list the house until you're certain you want to sell). From the inspector find out if there are any problems that will prevent approval of a loan on the part of the buyer - leaking roof, rotten siding, asbestos siding, etc.. If you have your parents PoA, it might be possible to take a home equity loan to pay for repairs but it would be due when the house sells, thus reducing the amount you'll get.

Speak to the realtor about cosmetic things that can increase the selling price - consider these: mow and weed eat the yard, put down fresh mulch and weed inhibitor around existing shrubs; replace old window treatments with new shades or blinds, pull UP carpets to reveal hardwood floors, paint wood paneling, add new pulls on drawers or put down new vinyl floors in kitchen and bathroom. These are relatively minor cosmetic changes that can improve the appearance with little cost to you.
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Thank you Lynn. Your advice is right on target with what we've been thinking these past few months. We've been battling between "sell as is" vs. sprucing up the house to attract more potential buyers. Just as you noted, few repairs have been made on the house over the last 25 years because mom was satisfied as it was, and she said she didn't want to "waste her money making it nicer for whoever lives there after she dies."
I'm very impressed that you opened your own adult day care center. That is a huge undertaking and a ton of responsibility, but there is so much need for these centers!
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