Can I Sell My House if My Husband Has Dementia?

old man trying to recognize his wife

Whether or not you can sell your house if your husband has dementia will depend on several factors, including your legal status, your husband’s capacity to make decisions, and the laws in your jurisdiction.

Joint Ownership

If you own the house jointly with your husband, you will likely need his consent to sell the property, regardless of his mental capacity. If your husband has been declared legally incapacitated, you may need to obtain court approval before selling the property.

Sole Ownership

If you are the sole owner of the property, you may have the legal right to sell it without your husband’s consent, but you should consult with an attorney to ensure that you are complying with all relevant laws and regulations.

Selling Your House When Husband Has Dementia

In any case, it is important to ensure that your husband’s interests are protected and that he is not taken advantage of in any way. It is also a good idea to consult with a lawyer who specializes in elder law to ensure that you are following all legal requirements and protecting your husband’s interests.

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It can be heartbreaking to watch your husband’s health deteriorate. Even more heartbreaking is that you might have to sell your house for cash to cover their medical bills or manage the property expenses of your loved one. However, you may wonder if you can sell your house fast for cash yourself if your husband is facing cognitive challenges and decreased mental capacity.

Can A Person With Dementia Sell Their House?

A person with dementia can, which you can learn more about here. But can you sell your house as a married couple?

In most states, a house is considered marital property. Therefore, to sell it, both spouses have to sign off on it. However, depending on the extent of your husband’s dementia, they may not be in a mental state to sign legal documents.

So, how do you go about it?

There are two main ways to go about the sale of the house:

  • Have Your Husband Appoint You as their Power of Attorney. Suppose they are in the early stages of dementia without significant decreased mental capacity yet, where symptoms are mild, and their cognitive capabilities are good for the most part. In that case, they can assign you power of attorney. You would take up decision-making over their health, estate planning, and other financial decisions.
  • Conservatorship. Suppose they are in the later stages of dementia and nursing home care, mentally incapacitated, and have not appointed you as their power of attorney. In that case, you will have to ask the court to appoint you as their legal conservator.

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How to Be Appointed as Power of Attorney for Your Spouse

To be appointed power of attorney for your spouse in a legal capacity, they must be of sound mind and able to enter contractual agreements. In Denver, your husband can appoint you as their power of attorney in either of the following ways:

  • Fill out a Colorado Statutory Form
  • Use the Willmaker Software
  • Ask a Colorado Attorney to Create One for You

Whichever option they choose, your husband will need to grant you authority over his finances via a legal document. It could be limited to specific financial affairs or something more comprehensive, including property, banking, government benefits, asset protection, and retirement plans.

They should also indicate when the POA should be executed, e.g., some people specify that the POA is only executable if they are incapacitated, while for others, it takes effect immediately.

Although notarizing a power of attorney is not compulsory in Colorado, it is important to have it notarized to ensure that it is ironclad. In this case, where they are giving you the power to sell your house, they should also file the POA with the recorder’s office in your county. 

It enables the recorder’s office to easily recognize your authority as a POA agent when selling the house. If your house has a mortgage, consider filling the POA with your lender.

Once you have obtained the original POA, keep it in a safe place that is easily accessible to you for use when the need arises. Consider making copies of the POA and putting them in a different location for safekeeping.

old man with dementia wooden blocks

How to Sell a House as a Power of Attorney Agent

Selling a house as the power of attorney agent for your husband is quite straightforward as long as the POA was notarized and recorded. Unlike selling as a conservator, you do not need to involve and get approval from the court.

However, it may be helpful to involve an attorney for legal advice or a real estate agent with experience in power of attorney real estate transactions. If your husband is in good mental health, let them know about the decision to sell and keep them updated on the sale process.

How to Seek Conservatorship for Your Spouse

The process of seeking conservatorship for your spouse varies from state to state. It typically involves petitioning the probate court for a hearing through an attorney designation.

In Colorado, a physician’s letter is required to prove your spouse’s medical incapacitation.

There is a hearing to establish that the conservatorship has the best interest of the incapacitated person. A notice of hearing and copy of the petition is served to a family member—the husband’s children and grandchildren—who are allowed to object to the conservatorship.

Once the conservatorship has been awarded, the judge and the probate registrar sign and issue letters to the conservator as evidence that they have the authority to act on behalf of the individual with mental incapacity. After that, you can now either sell house for cash or through a realtor.

How to Sell the House as a Conservator

Below are the steps to sell your house once you have appointed your spouse’s conservator.

Seek Court Approval

Before initiating the house sale, you need to seek approval from the court. Petition the court through your lawyer to schedule a hearing for the house sale. You will be required to provide relevant information about the property and valid reasons for selling the house.

For the court to approve the sale, the reason for the sale has to be in the best interest of both you and your spouse. Once the court agrees to the sale, you will be issued a court order, and you can proceed with the sale process. In most states, you have up to 1 year to sell the house.

Obtain an Appraisal of the House

An appraisal is required to determine the house’s fair market value. In most states, when selling a house under conservatorship, the property has to be appraised by two disinterested appraisers. The appraisal is then filed with the court. The house should be listed at or above the appraisal value.

List the House

You may sell the house on your own or engage a real estate agent. You do not need permission from the court to list the house.

File a Report of Sale

The house will go through the regular sale process, including getting and assessing various offers. When you settle down on an offer, you are required to notify the court to sign off the purchase order. Once the sale is approved, you can proceed to close and transfer the deed and property to the buyer.


You can sell a house if your husband has dementia. However, the exact process will depend on their mental state and whether they had appointed you as their power of attorney in case of incapacitation.

Note that dementia does not automatically mean they do not have contractual capacity. In the early stages of dementia, when their mental state is mostly fine, they can participate in the house sale. As long as they consent, the sale process would be like any other regular one, with both of you signing the listing and closing.

If you are not selling immediately, your husband should appoint you as their power of attorney and give you authority over their real estate. Giving you power of attorney makes it much easier to sell the house even if they become incapacitated later.

If they are already incapacitated, and they had not yet appointed you as their power of attorney, you would have to apply for conservatorship to be able to sell the house. Selling under conservatorship is more expensive and time-intensive as you need to involve the court in the sale process. Also, other beneficiaries can contest your conservatorship.

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