Column: Pause before downsizing


Commentary by Carol Applegate

The hot housing market has a lot of senior citizens thinking this may be the time to move to a smaller home, in with their kids or to a 55-and-over community. It’s tempting for seniors to sell their homes quickly right now since values are through the roof. However, they shouldn’t move too fast.

Before Selling

An older Hoosier should pause before putting their home on the market and get counsel from a financial planner and their attorney. One key reason? The sale of the home could impact future eligibility for Medicaid because of the program’s five-year look-back rule.

That rule allows the government to look back at any large financial transactions over the five-year period before applying for Medicaid and then count the value of any assets that have been disposed of during that time – possibly delaying eligibility.

Things to consider when deciding where to move

There are a lot of ramifications of downsizing.  It’s important to consider any health issues you may have and what the future may hold for you.

Here are some other key questions to ask yourself:

• Will I be able to live independently, or will I likely need assistance in the coming years?

• Can I transition to another level of care in the same community if needed?

• Can I continue the new home’s upkeep?

• What opportunities for socializing are nearby?

• How close will my family be?

• What safety features will I need? (No stairs, grab bars)

After you’ve downsized

Finally, once you’ve downsized you can focus on leaving a legacy. This is the time to think about how we want people to remember us and then put any wishes into place in legal documents.

If you or a loved one is considering downsizing, please contact Applegate & Dillman Elder Law at 317-492-9569.

Carol Applegate is an attorney at Applegate & Dillman Elder Law. The firm specializes in elder law and Life Care Planning, a holistic approach to deal with legal, financial, medical and emotional issues involved in growing older. The firm has offices in Indianapolis, Carmel and Zionsville. Find out more at


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