One of the most common questions adult children have when a parent moves into senior care is what to do with their parent’s house. Selling or keeping the house are the two main options, but there’s no one-size-fits-all answer. To make the best decision, you’ll first need to assess your parent’s financial situation and whether they can afford senior living. If they don’t need to sell their house, you and your siblings should understand the responsibilities of eventually inheriting a house. On top of all that, there are emotional factors to consider, so it’s important to plan ahead and prepare for many different scenarios.
Remember that seniors retain all legal authority when it comes to deciding what to do with their property. If you’re the adult child of a parent who plans to move into a senior living community, the decision to sell or keep their house could be yours in a couple scenarios: with a power of attorney that grants you the legal right to decide what to do with your parent’s real estate, or if your parent dies and leaves the house to you as an inheritance.
However, many seniors rely on their adult children to help them navigate complicated financial decisions, such as the sale of a home and a move into senior care. You can provide valuable insight even if the ultimate decision is your parent’s.
Here are some questions to ask your aging parent when they’re deciding whether to keep their house:
Often, the biggest factor when deciding whether to keep a house is the aging parent’s ability to pay for senior care. The average cost of assisted living is $4,807 a month, according to A Place for Mom’s 2023 report on the cost of long-term care and senior living. Due to inflation and the increased cost of senior care, many seniors don’t have the financial resources to fully fund their senior living expenses. Selling the family home may be the best option to pay senior living.
In general, if all the following statements are true for your aging parent, keeping their house when moving into a senior living facility may be a reasonable option:
To avoid selling their home but still using it to pay for senior care, seniors can take out a reverse mortgage to afford assisted living or memory. Given the rising costs of senior living, many seniors who don’t wish to part with their family homes permanently — or who wish to keep it in the family — consider reverse mortgages.
According to A Place for Mom’s proprietary data from 2023, assisted living costs $4,807 a month on average, memory care costs $5,995, and full-time home care with an average of 44 hours per week at $30 per hour costs $5,280 a month. Using the equity in a home through a reverse mortgage may help offset these costs.
An aging parent’s move to senior care may prompt questions about inheritance. This is a good time to review your and your siblings’ financial situations to determine whether you could — or should — keep an inherited house when the time comes.
Keeping an inherited house is often a more complicated financial decision than selling a house to pay for senior care. If the following statements are true for you or your siblings, then keeping an inherited house after the death of a parent may be a good option:
Your emotions and relationships shouldn’t be ignored when deciding whether to keep a parent’s home. For many adult children, selling a family home — often the home they grew up in — can feel like a true loss. Homes are, after all, more than a financial investment. They’re deeply tied to identity and memories, which have a value all their own.
Our free tool provides options, advice, and next steps based on your unique situation.
If the following statements are true for your parent, your siblings, or yourself, consider keeping your parent’s home:
For many seniors moving into senior care, the thought of selling their house can feel like the last tie to their independence. It can be a highly distressing idea, and their emotions shouldn’t be dismissed.
Instead, consider whether the house needs to be sold, and if the answer is yes, decide when it needs to be sold. Selling the home a while after your parents are settled into their new living situation may allow your parents to process the decision more fully.
If your parents don’t have a real financial need to sell the house, encourage them with this information. Consider taking them on visits back to their house, especially if a family member moves in after them.
Whether you and your parent decide to keep a family home after moving into senior care is one of the most important financial decisions you can make, and it’s not one to take lightly. Taking your parent’s financial situation into account is the most important aspect of this decision, but don’t forget to account for your and any siblings’ finances as well. Finally, remember that choosing to keep or sell a home is an emotional choice for everyone involved, and it should be treated with sensitivity.
For a listening ear and sound senior living advice, reach out to A Place for Mom’s Senior Living Advisors. These locally based advisors can help you and your aging parent find the right senior living option, and they can answer any questions you may have about the transition from their home to senior living — all at no cost to your family.
Determine if keeping or selling the house is your decision to make
The information contained on this page is for informational purposes only and is not intended to constitute medical, legal or financial advice or create a professional relationship between A Place for Mom and the reader. Always seek the advice of your health care provider, attorney or financial advisor with respect to any particular matter, and do not act or refrain from acting on the basis of anything you have read on this site. Links to third-party websites are only for the convenience of the reader; A Place for Mom does not endorse the contents of the third-party sites.
Make the best senior care decision