All About Estates

Plan Well to Relocate an Older Person Across the Country – Part 2

Well before deciding to relocate an older person across the country, carefully consider the pros and cons. It can be far more disruptive, stressful, and costly than you might think. A well-thought-out plan created a year or more ahead of the move can decrease negative impacts and increase the chance of a successful move.

Part one of this article reviewed why elderly people might be moving long distances, such as being closer to family for support and getting better access to health services. Whatever the intention, putting the appropriate supports in place for them before the move can be more complex than anticipated.

Develop a Plan to Relocate an Older Person

When considering a move, families, attorneys for personal care, and those advising the older person should develop a holistic plan that stages and phases the various aspects of the move. Moving a person from their home and community, where they may have lived for decades, to an entirely new and unknown situation in another province can be complex. In our practice, we recommend a customized personal plan with three pillars:

  • Health and lifestyle planning
  • Financial costing and preparedness
  • Legal considerations and preparedness.

Consider the example of an outbound move from Ontario to British Columbia. A 70-year-old man is moving to Victoria to be closer to his son and family. The man has been struggling with a severe seizure disorder, among other health issues, and can have medical emergencies requiring emergency room visits every few months. He has decided to leave his home of twenty-five-plus years in Toronto with 24-hour caregivers in place to move to BC. His goal is to be closer to his son as he ages; however, his medical coordination and caregiver requirements need careful planning.

Health and Lifestyle Considerations

The first part of this article zeroed in on some health and lifestyle planning considerations, such as

  • Applying for provincial health coverage
  • Understanding the gaps in coverage
  • Considering accommodations to suit the care needs of an older person.

With a move across provincial boundaries, it may also be necessary to consider,

  • Private health coverage to bridge the loss of temporary coverage related to acute hospitalization
  • Current and new medications
  • In-home support services that are publicly funded.

Often, clients will choose a blend of public and private services to meet their health and personal care needs. While clients may have extended health benefits through private pay or through pension benefit plans, it is wise to check the policies to ensure you are covered. For example, your pension plan may have extended health benefits in Ontario, but ensuring that the same benefits are available nationally is important.

Financial Costs and Preparedness

When a person has lived in their home for over 25 years, many memories and probably a vast accumulation of family heirlooms and belongings must be sorted out and dealt with. This phase of moving could take at least a year as the individual makes decisions about what they wish to take with them and what to do with the rest of their property.

  • If the person has a car, do they take it with them or not?
  • If they are moving to a smaller residence, such as a condominium from a 3,000-square-foot house, is this the appropriate time to give some artwork or jewellery to their intended beneficiaries?
  • Before you look at quotes from movers, do you need someone to assist in decluttering the house and/or belongings before you can assess what will fit into the new home.

It takes time to reflect on these decisions.

In addition to planning how and what to downsize, there are substantial costs associated with moving.

  • Are there floor plans readily available, and does the new accommodation require cleaning and painting before the move?
  • Is a design person required to assist with designing the new location?
  • Can service providers work remotely? Depending on the circumstances, several could be required, and the cost of their services could be substantial.

Moving a household also includes moving financial services such as banking, credit cards, mortgages, lines of credit, etc.

  • Who is going to organize the financial services aspect?
  • Is there a wealth manager advising the person, and can they assist with introducing colleagues to another province?
  • Tax season is underway, and accounting services may need to be moved. A significant lead time could be required.

Legal Considerations and Preparedness

In looking at a holistic plan for an inter-provincial move, it’s wise to seek advice from a lawyer who is familiar with estate matters across the country. With so many changes occurring, it’s an opportunity to update wills and review the powers of attorney for both personal care and property.[1]

Consulting with an estate lawyer is advisable because:

  • The laws related to powers of attorney differ in each province and territory across the country.
  • A power of attorney that is valid in one province may not be valid in another.
  • If an older person decides to retain property, such as a cottage in one province, and becomes a resident in another province, there are added complexities in determining powers of attorney for property.

In conclusion, navigating major life transitions can be particularly profound for older adults. Embracing these moments with warmth, emphasizing the positive horizons that await, and surrounding them with emotional and family support pave the way for a smoother journey. Crafting a compassionate, step-by-step plan ensures a successful transition and a celebration of a new, enriching chapter in their life story, filled with hope and new possibilities.


About Susan J. Hyatt
Susan J Hyatt is the Chair & CEO of Silver Sherpa Inc. A leader and author in the ‘smart aging’ movement, she is a member of the Canadian College of Health Leaders and the International Federation on Ageing. She holds a post-graduate certification in Negotiations from Harvard Law School/MIT and an MBA from Griffith University in Australia. She also holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Physical Therapy specializing in critical care/trauma from the University of Toronto.


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