Retirement living: Buying into a life rights model

Three myth-busting questions to help you understand whether or not life rights are going to work for your lifestyle. 

Should I move into a retirement village? This is a question most people grapple with sooner or later…and it’s a big decision to make. When looking at retirement options, you generally have three choices: life rights; freehold; and sectional title. You are probably aware of the pros and cons of the second and third option, but it’s the first option that is often unknown. Chartered Wealth Solutions sheds some light on the meaning of life rights by answering these common questions:  

  1. Does my family inherit any of the money I invested in the property?  Yes, but not all of it. Life rights essentially means that once you pass away and your unit is resold, your estate gets back the amount you paid for the property, minus some costs, but not any profit made on the sale. However, it does come with other benefits, of which more later.
  2. Are life rights a more affordable option?  Generally, they are more budget friendly than ownership, especially on a monthly cost basis, for the following reasons:
    * Life rights units are often sold at a lower cost than outright ownership units.
    * You do pay levies, but these cover all external maintenance, security, perhaps a meal a day, care of the garden, a swimming pool if there is one, and all communal areas.
    * No transfer fees are paid upon purchase.
    * No rates and taxes need to be paid on a monthly basis.
  3. What happens if my pension runs out and I cannot afford the monthly costs?  One of the main benefits of life rights is that if you live to a really old age, and you run out of money, the village will not throw you out. The cost of your continued care is deducted from the capital amount you paid upfront. For example, if you paid 1.5-million for a flat, and the village cares for you for an extra few years after your money runs out, after selling the unit, your estate will get the R1.5-million minus the care costs. (There may well be other deductions too, such as a sales commission and/or or an amount to refurbish the unit for the next purchaser.)

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