By Carol Applegate, Attorney, Applegate & Dillman Elder Law

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. But, there are considerations they should take into account before, during and after downsizing.

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.

After seeking legal and financial advice, the homeowner should find a good real estate agent that can guide them in the right direction. There are real estate agents who specialize in helping older Hoosiers downsize and can guide them to the best options for them.

Things to consider when deciding where to move

There are a lot of ramifications of selling and buying something different.  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:

  • What are the different types of homes and communities available to me?
  • Will I be able to live independently or will I likely need some kind of assistance in the years to come?
  • What if something should happen and I need to get some care? Can I transition to another level of care in the same community?
  • Can I continue the upkeep on the new home?
  • What opportunities for socializing are nearby or included in the community?
  • How close will my family members be?
  • What safety features will I need? (No stairs, grab bars, etc.)

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.

I’m facing some of these issues myself as I try to downsize and I’m going through the same problem-solving process. As an Elder Law attorney, I can say that it’s a lot easier to put some thought into these issues before you put your house on the market than it is to solve problems after you’ve already sold the property and moved.


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