Fraser Valley – In recognition of National Seniors’ Day on October 1, the Society of Notaries Public of B.C. is offering tips and resources to help B.C. seniors stay in their homes, find appropriate new housing or connect with available supports.
Given high real estate prices and rents throughout the province, seniors on a fixed income or relying on social assistance may struggle to continue to afford and function in their homes:
- According to the 2016 Statistics Canada Census, 33% of women and 17.5% of men age 65+ live alone.
- The B.C. Real Estate Association reported that the average house price across B.C. increased 19.1% year-over-year in August 2017.
- A recent survey of residential care homes by the Office of the Seniors Advocate of B.C. found that while residential care is under-resourced in some areas, it’s performing well in others. While 83% of residents believe staff know what they are doing, 40% do not want to be there.
- Only 4% of BC seniors live in residential care.
“Put simply, seniors are happiest and healthiest living in their own home for as long as possible,” said Tammy Morin Nakashima, a Richmond Notary and President of B.C. Notaries. “A Notary can help seniors and their families prepare plans and documents specifying various supports and responsibilities, including financial and healthcare that help keep them in their home. We can also help them plan for future residential care, or an equivalent, that fits within their financial framework and wishes.”
Housing Tips for B.C. Seniors:
1. Consider deferring your property taxes:
If you’re over 55, you might qualify to defer all or part of your current year’s property taxes. You’ll be charged a low rate of interest and the Province will hold a lien on your property, but this might be a viable option if your home has increased substantially in value, as the deferred costs would be settled as part of your estate – or paid back if you sell your home. More information is available here.
2. Learn more about available funding to adapt your home for safety:
Adapting your home in small ways can help you stay in your home longer and more safely. There are a number of programs available that might help fund these improvements including B.C. Housing’s Home Adaptations for Independence and the Province of B.C.’s Home Renovation Tax Credit for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities. Additionally, the Government of Canada has information to help people thinking about aging in place.
3. Access funding available for renters age 60 or older:
B.C. residents age 60 or older with low to moderate incomes who rent their homes may be eligible for B.C. Housing’s Shelter Aid for Elderly Renters (SAFER) program, which provides a monthly cash payment to subsidize rent, including homes in the private rental market.
4. Learn more about home support options:
If you or a family member need help with simple day-to-day tasks, the United Way’s Better at Home program, which manages 67 local programs across B.C., funded by the Province, might be a helpful resource.
B.C. Housing provides more information here about supportive housing, which is typically modified rental homes for low-income seniors and people with disabilities, or assisted living housing facilities. Both offer a range of care services.
5. Keep your planning documents up-to-date:
It’s a good idea to have current written instructions for your future healthcare. Consult your Notary to discuss granting a Representation Agreement to appoint someone you trust to carry out your wishes. Without one, your spouse or other loved ones may not be empowered to enforce your instructions with doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers on your behalf.
“Notaries are very familiar with the support services available to seniors, and planning that can be done to provide peace of mind for seniors and their families. This helps ensure they receive the support they need now and in the future,” said Scott Simpson, a Notary in Chilliwack, Abbotsford and Hope.
If you have questions about your or a family member’s options, see your Notary for expert advice. To find a Notary in your community, please visit www.notaries.bc.ca.
The Society of Notaries Public of B.C. represents more than 365 highly-trained Notary professionals. Most Notaries have locally owned and operated offices and all provide personal assistance to clients around the province. Individuals, families and businesses seek the services of B.C. Notaries for a wide range of non-contentious legal matters, including residential and commercial real estate transfers, mortgage refinancing, Wills and advanced healthcare planning, Powers of Attorney, and other important documents.
The Notary’s Tradition of Trust spans 2000 years. Notaries first came to British Columbia over 100 years ago. They continue to serve their valued clients and their communities across the province. For more information, or to find a Notary near you, please visit www.notaries.bc.ca.