Micro-Living and Your Estate Plan

Among the many new trends emerging in a variety of places around the world is the idea of micro-living. The idea behind micro-living is to minimize the space you live in and consequently minimize associated costs, and potentially your impact on the environment. However, it is the reduction in cost that is most appealing to many people. Retirees are no exception to this, and a recent article from CNBC indicates that micro-living is becoming increasingly popular among elderly individuals looking to remain independent while minimizing their responsibilities and maximizing their savings potential.

Benefits of Micro-Living

Affectionately referred to in the article as “granny pods,” micro homes for senior citizens are typically several hundred square feet. This makes them small enough to fit in the backyards of most homes. These “granny pods” have all of the comforts of a normal home, just on a smaller scale. They allow senior citizens to maintain a sense of independence without having to actually move in with family or friends. This can be a welcome relief for both elderly individuals as well as their families that may not necessarily be looking to live together full-time. These micro homes typically have a bathroom, bedroom, kitchen, and potentially several other rooms depending on the size and experience you are looking for. They can be built to minimize obstacles that could be hazardous to older individuals, such as being built with flat floors to minimize the potential to trip or with modified showers to enable safer hygiene.

Potential Concerns

Even as a scaled-down home, these living quarters are not cheap. In fact, the article points out that some “granny pods” can cost upwards of $200,000. However, for individuals that are considering selling their primary residence and moving in with family members, into an assisted living facility, or into a nursing home, this cost may be substantially cheaper than the cost of those long-term care options over a period of years – especially in cases where an elderly person enjoys excellent health and is likely to be able to take advantage of micro living for a number of years. The cost of these homes is also typically far less than the cost of a full-scale home, which will allow people to save more of their money including more of the profit they may have taken in from selling their primary residence.

However, the article also notes something many medical and psychological professionals have asserted for years: aging at home is better for you. When an individual has the opportunity to remain close to family and friends as well as participate in normal activities that keep them cognitively and physically engaged, the aging process is easier for everyone. It is also more enjoyable. While not everyone may be a candidate for these micro-living homes, they can provide a viable option for seniors that are not ready for or do not want to live in assisted living or nursing care facilities. They can provide a new and unique opportunity for a person to pass their own primary home to a trust or an heir while retaining more of their estate to distribute to heirs when the time comes. An experienced estate planning attorney can help you understand the dynamics of this type of living arrangement and how it might enable you to preserve more of your estate while continuing to enjoy a more active lifestyle.

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