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Safety, Products and Liability: A Legal Blog

Welcome to my blog. This blog is dedicated to helping anyone who is currently in the midst of a liability issue. A few years ago, my daughter contracted listeria due to poorly packaged food. She, thankfully, was okay, but we still took her case to court. I want all families who have been affected by liability issues to understand their rights, so I decided to start this blog. My beautiful daughter is now 17 and preparing to start uni next year. I have three younger children as well and an amazing husband. Thank you for reading my blog. Please share my posts if they help you!

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Safety, Products and Liability: A Legal Blog

Protecting assets from nursing home and retirement village administrators

by Liesanne Martin

Australians spend a lot of their life saving for retirement through compulsory retirement savings. As life expectancy increases, more and more people find themselves downsizing their living situations later in life so that they can enjoy their twilight years. Unfortunately, some contracts for retirement villages and nursing homes are written in a way that can threaten the hard fought savings of retirees. Here are some things you can do to help protect yours, or a loved one's, assets. 

Read the contract carefully

Many contracts for retirement home have a range of fees including a deferred fee (paid when the owner or owner's family sells the retirement home unit, compulsory selling fees and ongoing fees. These fees can amount to hundreds and thousands of dollars, and due to the less than clear nature of how they are calculated using a combination of dollar amounts and percentages it can be hard to intuitively realise how much these fees amount to. It's important to read any contracts in detail, then run some calculations based on your own finances to work out how much these fees might run to on an annual and lifetime basis for your purchase. 

In addition to the current fee levels, it's a good idea to review the escalation processes in case the administrators of the retirement village or nursing home choose to raise the fees. If you are not wary a situation that initially looks affordable can rapidly become unaffordable if the fees rise dramatically whilst the owners are on a limited income. In many cases, the villages retained the right to get any unpaid fees taken from the estate which can eat away at amounts intended to be left for children or grandchildren in a will.

Get a lawyer to review your contract

As all contracts are written differently it's a good idea to get an experienced lawyer to look over the purchase contract for the unit and identify any issues that could cause you any problems. This might also be a good time to do some more general estate planning and make sure that any assets that you have accumulated over your life, including superannuation, the family home and other assets will be directed towards the intended recipients when you pass away. 

Entering a retirement village or nursing home can be a great move for people who are struggling with maintaining an independent home. It can be useful to get legal advice before buying a place in a facility, as contracts can include potentially confusing fees and charges.