Saving money on your property taxes even as you move into a retirement home.As attorneys, we often have the opportunity to help our clients save money. For example, carefully monitoring the status of property taxes often can yield significant financial dividends.

Recently, we met with a client who lives in assisted living to discuss estate planning. This particular client also owns a condominium in which she no longer lives. She may decide to sell it at some point, but has not put it on the market yet and continues to own it.

During the course of working on this client’s trust and related estate planning documents, we checked the status of her principal residence exemption (PRE) for her home. She had no PRE in place.

A PRE allows an owner’s principal residence (or homestead) to be taxed at a lower rate than a second home. Since this client had no exemption, she was being taxed at a rate nearly double that at which she otherwise would have been taxed, costing her thousands in property taxes annually.

In Michigan, there is a special exemption for those living in assisted living or nursing homes who continue to own their home that allows for a PRE exemption even though the home is no longer occupied. As a result, this client could claim the PRE.

By assisting the client in claiming the PRE, we were able to save this client more than a $1,000 per year going forward. Double checking simple things such as the status of a client’s PRE on her home can be very beneficial.