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Setting the ground rules when living with multi-generations

Setting the ground rules when living with multi-generations

Setting the ground rules when living with multi-generations

Date: December 22, 2016

As UK citizens we are all living longer. Younger generations are finding it difficult to get on the property ladder and older generations need extra care and support.

Pooling resources can at first instance seem like a sensible solution to the problems and potentially deliver a whole host of benefits. An elderly person at home to receive parcels, feed the dogs and provide free baby sitting, and getting the support of the next generation or two to provide company and support when needed.

We see clients who are successfully living with their older and younger generations on a regular basis, but we also see it when the people involved have not gone into the situation with their eyes wide open and fully aware of all the legal, financial and taxation implications.
Peter Gibson, Managing Director at Coles Solicitors has had his own personal experience of having two sides of his family’s older generations living at close quarters. From this and his legal expertise, he has created the following advice:  

  1. Frankness, honesty and clarity, for everyone from day one. Let’s be realistic, life can and does have its ups and downs. It is important to be clear about what life will be like living together. Do not over promise and under deliver and be realistic. If you are going to be out at work all day – that is not going to change just because granny is at home all day.

  2. Privacy, it is valuable, and you don’t appreciate it until you have been without it. Set down ground rules about who shares what living space, what is acceptable about comings and goings.

  3. Do not take anyone for granted. Please and thank you are just as important when the father in law is living in the bungalow in the garden as when he lives twenty miles away.

  4. Money, it can cause so much conflict. Be clear on your calculations of who will pay for what and when and how will they pay where one generation has more resources than another be clear, and not to take advantage.

  5. Be clear on ownership. Who owns the property and who has a financial interest in the property? What happens if a couple split up? What happens if there is a death? Will there be money owed from one part of the family to another? We would always recommend you keep clear and accurate records whilst keeping everyone informed including the wider family of the financial situation. 

  6. Get the legal parts right, such as ownership and obligations before a single brick is laid or extra bathroom is fitted. 

  7. Get all of your Wills right. What happens if x dies first? Make sure that everyone has the necessary plans in place and that they communicate it to everyone in your home in case there is an event of death. By doing so, everyone can clearly understand the legal and financial implications.

  8. Take advice. Putting a log cabin in the garden for grandma may seem a perfect solution but does it have an impact on property values, and in turn does it have implications for care costs, and inheritance tax.

  9. Consider having documents drawn up to record what is agreed, it might seem bureaucratic whilst everyone is talking about the plans but years down the line when memories fade they can be a godsend.

  10. Most importantly, it’s important to remember that multigenerational living is about family, shared meals, gatherings and the normal love and thrust of family life provided the groundwork has been put in place.