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How do I suggest my mother in law sell her home?

My mother in law has been living with my husband and I for four months after having her second stroke. Her doctors do not feel she should live by herself. She still has a mortgage at 80 years old. I take care of her finances It is hard to see all this money going out to keep her house up and no one living there. She does not have much cash on hand. She has just enough income to pay her expenses of owning the home.
So far we have only reimbursed ourselves money for food and my husband taking care of her lawn. I'd like to have my husband get paid for all his custodial care and if she could contribute to the house expenses. She does not have the extra money to do that.
Status: Open    Jun 20, 2016 - 07:10 AM

Finance, Caregiving

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Expert Answers

Jun 24, 2016 - 06:45 PM

It sounds like there are several concerns about your mother-in-law's situation, some financial, some about the house, and of course around her health. Let her know you want to have a family conversation about these important matters. Follow her lead on when she's ready to talk, and invite other immediate family members to participate, whatever their proximity or involvement. Each person brings a valuable perspective. An elder mediator is an impartial person who can help facilitate this sort of difficult conversation, with consideration of all perspectives and centered on the elder's needs, wants and values. Together, you figure out what each person can do and wants to do. The mediator can help you identify all the information you need to gather and assess to make informed and compassionate decisions. You'll be surprised how many options appear in mediation when everyone is well-informed. Best of luck in this important life transition for your mother-in-law.

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Jun 25, 2016 - 01:22 PM

The BIG questions that needs to be answered is; "Is mom going to return to her home and live independently again someday?"
Right now you seem to be in a holding pattern. Ok, she had another stroke, BUT is she in rehab? will she recover? Will she ever get 'better'?

Or is this the begining of the end? <yuck> That answer is probably what has her son (your husband) in a freeze mode.

IF she might return home, then the house needs to be kept available for her, but likely (as you describe) she is not going to recover and regain her independence and her son (and any other faminly members) are resisting making any decisions or commitments because it will force them to face the grieving process of their mother's decline and eventual death.

You have not mentioned if this person has other children. As a spouse you MUST recognize that she is not YOUR mother and it will be very hard for you be involved in making any decisions regarding her future. Her side of the family must decide. However as an inlaw you can try to move the decision along by encouraging (eventually demanding?) that they come together as a family to provide care for their mother as she exists right now. Family members will always remember and see mom as being more capable than she actually is.

If your husband is her only child then you need to help him grieve his mother's new dibilitated condidtion and prepare for its natural conclusion.
YES in many cases this is much easier said than done! As a daughter in law anything you suggest can very easily be interpreted as being greedy and intrusive.

While it is ugly to say, it is true that the value of her assets/estate DOES play a role in any decisions.
The people involved WILL absolutely be thinking (even if they dont actually say it) "If anything is spent now, there will be less for me when she dies". However all parties need to be reminded that mom like everybody else also needs to pay her own way.

IF you are gong to care for her in your home then 'you' should be 'paid' something. Cash now? House value when she dies? There may be legal or financial planing reasons to do one or the other, but any decision should NOT be based on saving her money now so that there will be a bigger pot to split later. (this happens in many families)

Again as someone who is not directly related to her, your ideas, motivations and intentions have to carefully put forward or your reputation in that family can be destroyed for a long, long time so be careful. Phrase everything in manner that is helping your husband, help his mother.

If her house is sold you then need to consult a lawyer about putting all the money into a trust or other protective state (likely with your husband as the trustee?) so that the expenditures can be properly accounted for and you can side step some tax major tax traps.
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