ElderLaw News-The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. — MD, VA, DC
ElderLaw News
ElderLaw News is a weekly e-newsletter that brings you reports of legal developments and other trends of vital interest to seniors and their advocates. This newsletter is brought to you by The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., William S. Fralin, Esq., President., William S. Fralin, Esq., President.

Home Upgrades to Help Aging in Place

Many individuals want to stay in their home through old age.

Frequently, our clients are concerned that their home is a poor place to age in place because it is two-story, split-level, or simply old. Also, many are unwilling to move to a new home in order to accommodate decreased mobility due to their connection with their home or the lack of affordable options for relocation. Finally, our clients worry that any remodeling to accommodate disability would hurt their home value and result in their home appearing “clinical” like the nursing homes they are trying to avoid. Fortunately, the concept of “Universal Design” has been adopted by many contractors, architects, and designers, to create more accessible homes while maintaining stylish and appealing homes. Often such a remodel can create a better home environment for our clients and enable them to age in place.

What is Universal Design?

Universal Design incorporates subtle, but important, features that benefit disabled individuals of all ages who live in the home. Simple changes such as widened doorways and levered door handles instead of knobs create a more accessible home without detracting from the home’s aesthetics. Additionally, the positioning of cabinetry, switches, and outlets significantly affects a home’s accessibility. The goal of Universal Design is to provide a livable home for individuals in all stages of life and mobility. In addition to older individuals seeking to age in place, these design concepts benefit children and younger disabled individuals.

By using Universal Design principles, a remodeling project will provide more utility while the owner keeps the home, and, because the design is meant to be aesthetically pleasing, the marketability of the home will not be affected. In fact, the home will be marketable to buyers with young children or disabled family members who may not have considered it previously. If accessibility is created without using Universal Design or aesthetically pleasing methods, many prospective purchasers will want to reverse the renovations. Accordingly, the home will likely be less marketable when it is eventually sold.

If you are building a new home or considering remodeling your home to be more accessible, you should consider using professionals familiar with Universal Design concepts. The National Association of the Remodeling Industry (“NARI”) certifies remodelers as Universal Design Certified Professionals (“UDCP”). This certification means that the individual has at least taken a course and passed a test on Universal Design principals. Avoid using remodelers who are not familiar with Universal Design concepts, because they may not think beyond widening hallways and limiting stairs and incorporate aesthetic concerns that many remodels for accessibility simply do not address. Universal Design is mostly felt in the details of the home such as the location of towel hooks, the types of faucets used, and choices in flooring. While any remodeler or contractor can create a wider hallway, if they are unfamiliar with the subtle changes required to make a home truly accessible and aesthetically appealing, the result will be a slightly more functional home that may be less marketable.

If you are considering the significant step of remodeling your home for accessibility concerns, it is likely a good time to review your plan for long-term care and incapacity. Meeting with the estate planning and elder law attorneys at The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm can help walk you through what the financial and medical changes you are experiencing mean for your retirement and estate plans.


If you are interested in having an Elder Law attorney from The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. speak at an event, then please call us at:

Maryland (301) 214-2229
Virginia (703) 243-3200
Washington DC (202) 223-0270

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C.

The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. is an elder law firm. We represent older persons, disabled persons, their families, and their advocates. The practice of elder law includes estate planning, estate and trust administration, powers of attorney, advance medical directives, titling of assets and designations of beneficiaries, guardianships, conservatorships, and public entitlements such as Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, and SSI, disability planning, income tax planning and preparation, care management, and fiduciary services. For more information about The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C., please visit our website at http://www.chroniccareadvocacy.com.

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The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. encourages you to share this newsletter with anyone who is interested in issues pertaining to the elderly, the disabled and their advocates. The information in this newsletter may be copied and distributed, without charge and without permission, but with appropriate citation to The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. If you are interested in a free subscription to the Elder Law News, then please e-mail us at office@chroniccareadvocacy.com, telephone us at (703) 243-3200, or fax us at 703-841-9102.

This newsletter is not intended as a substitute for legal counsel. While every precaution has been taken to make this newsletter accurate, we assume no responsibility for errors, omissions, or damages resulting from the use of the information in this newsletter. The Estate Planning & Elder Law Firm, P.C. thanks the law firm of Hook Law Center for their input to this newsletter.

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(202) 223-0270

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