January 19, 2016

Continuing Care Retirement Communities

Credit: Ambro at FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Continuing Care Retirement Communities or CCRCs are becoming more and more common. CCRCs are retirement communities that offer different levels of service and health care at the same location or campus. Most CCRCs have apartments, cottages, or small houses, which allow healthier residents to experience a neighborhood feel while still enjoying access to the amenities (restaurants, gyms, libraries, clubs, etc.) of the larger campus. CCRCs also usually have smaller apartments or rooms for residents who need more assistance in addition to skilled nursing facilities and rehabilitation centers. The idea is to not have to move to multiple residences towards the end of one’s life, and to not have to be separated from a healthier or sicker spouse.

The growing popularity of CCRCs is due to a number of reasons. For one, residents want to keep their independence as long as possible and CCRCs allow them the flexibility to do so. CCRCs also allow many sick residents to stay with, or at least in the same facility as, their healthier spouse. Additionally, many residents either do not want to be a burden on their spouse or family, or simply do not have spouses or families that are able to handle the burden of care necessary to support them. With people living longer and longer, I would expect this trend to continue. I’ve already seen it as I have helped a growing number of clients transition themselves or their parents to CCRCs. It’s a big decision; emotionally and financially, and one that should not be taken lightly. In that spirit, I’d like to offer a few financial tips I’ve learned along the way.

  1. Know what you can do. As you might imagine, there are varying qualities of CCRCs with varying costs. It’s important to look at what your new living expenses would be and whether that is a feasible “burn rate” given your amount of assets and life expectancy. Many people have to sell their primary residence to make a move to a CCRC possible.
  2. Figure out your real estate options. If you need to sell your primary residence when moving into a CCRC, talk with the CCRC before making any decisions. In some cases they have people or relationships that can help you clean out and even sell a home at discounted rates. I’m talking estate sale experts, realtors, and mortgage brokers. Some CCRCs offer financing on a short term loan between the time you sell your primary residence and move in, but sometimes “outside” financing on a loan to bridge you between the sale of your old home and the purchase of your new CCRC home may be necessary.
  3. Consider refundable versus nonrefundable options. Some CCRCs charge you more up front, but promise to give your heirs a portion of your down payment back after you pass away or if you pass away within a certain period of time. Depending on the specific offer, your financial capabilities, and your life expectancy, there can be a strategic decision to be made here.
  4. Consult with a CPA. At certain CCRCs, a portion of your initial down payment can qualify as a medical deduction for income tax purposes. Ask any CCRC you are considering if this is the case, and then if so, talk with your CPA. A really large medical deduction might cause you to have a really low or negative income tax year in the year you move into a CCRC, so it may make sense to pull some income forward or recognize some extra income in such a year if possible. Perhaps the CCRC will let you pay the down payment over two tax years so you can spread out the deduction? A medical deduction for moving into a really nice CCRC can near six figures, so the tax planning on this isn’t something to just do yourself or with your generic tax software!
  5. Get on a waiting list sooner rather than later. There are more people interested in CCRCs than there are spots available. If you know there is a particular facility you are interested in or you have friends going into, inquire if there is a waiting list. Usually you can get on a waiting list for several hundred to a few thousand dollars that may even be refundable if you change your mind. You may not be able to get into the CCRC you want to when you need it if you don’t go ahead and get on the list beforehand!

As always, if I can be of assistance to you or someone in your family considering a move into a CCRC, please let me know. You know where to find me.


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