What Happens to the Property and Personal Affairs of My Parent Who Moves Into Assisted Living?

One of the challenges faced by a senior who has decided to move into assisted living is dealing with property owned by that individual. In addition, there can be questions surrounding how the personal affairs of a senior moving into an assisted living will be handled moving forward. In this article, we provide a general overview of what happens to a person’s property and personal affairs when he or she moves to assisted living.

Personal Property and Assisted Living

Many, if not most, assisted living communities permit a person to bring at least some furniture and personal effects to his or her room or apartment in the facility. There are practical limitations to what can and cannot be moved into an assisted living room or apartment, space being a primary factor.

There are instances in which residents of assisted living have roommates. If that is the case, moving furniture and personal effects into a living space is still possible, but the limitations will be a bit greater to respect the other occupant of the room.

Some assisted living communities have at least some storage spaces available to residents. Bear in mind, however, that such space is not likely to be particularly large and is intended to stow personal effects rather than pieces of furniture.

Due to limitations on the amount of property that can be moved into an assisted living room or apartment, a person moving to this type of community must undertake what is commonly called downsizing. Admittedly, this can be something of a difficult experience for a person. Nonetheless, as a practical matter, it is a process that ultimately does need to occur.

Personal Affairs in Assisted Living

Provided your parent is legally competent to manage his or her financial affairs, your mother or father will continue to do so once he or she moves into assisted living. If your parent has had issues with managing financial matters – which can happen as a person ages – you or someone else may have been designated as the agent of your mother or father under a financial power of attorney.

If you have a power of attorney for your mother or father and have been providing financial assistance, that will continue when your parent moves into assisted living. That legal status does not change in any manner.

Staff, administrators, and owners of assisted living communities are not legally permitted to manage residents’ financial affairs. Staff, administrators, and facility owners cannot act as the guardian, trustee, conservator, or agent under a financial power of attorney (or medical power of attorney, for that matter). Doing so would be a conflict of interest and is impermissible according to the statutes and regulations of all 50 states, including California.

Staff, administrators, or facility owners can serve as a Social Security payee (or as the designated payee for some other similar type of benefit) with the express written permission of a legally competent resident. State laws have a bonding requirement when this type of arrangement is implemented. Specifically, the general practice is for the person to be designated as the payee to obtain a surety bond in an amount that is equal to at least two times the standard monthly payment or two times whatever payment is expected to be from another source that permits the use of a payee.

Elder Financial Abuse

The restrictions discussed a moment ago are designed to protect an older assisted living resident from financial abuse. According to the U.S. Department of Justice, elder financial abuse is a significant problem across the United States. If your parent resides in an assisted living community (or anywhere else, for that matter), there are nine signs of potential elder abuse that you need to be tuned into:

  • Forged signatures
  • Missing statement accounts
  • Changes in the temperament of your parent
  • Unusual withdrawals from financial accounts
  • Suspicious changes to a last will and testament
  • Withdrawals from investment accounts with penalties
  • New names on accounts
  • Unpaid bills
  • Excessive trading in brokerage accounts

If your parent is the victim of elder financial abuse, your mother or father may attempt to hide what has occurred or is occurring.

Feelings of embarrassment may prevent your mother or father from speaking up, from confiding in you that there is a problem. An elderly person may not want to get their financial adviser or caretaker in an assisted living facility or elsewhere in trouble. Your parent may be especially reluctant to discuss the situation with you if the perpetrator is another family member or a person who has been what your mother or father thought was a trusted friend. In certain cases, financial advisers have become close confidants of their clients, only to exploit that relationship for their illicit financial gain.