Will They Take My Home to Pay for Care Home Fees?

Will They Take My Home to Pay for Care Home Fees
  • You can ask for your property to be disregarded if certain people still live in it.
  • A jointly owned property may be inadmissible for means testing.
  • The reason for and the manner in which a home is jointly owned may be material.

 

Some argue the forced sale of assets to pay for late life care, a pragmatic approach to supporting an ageing population. Others, feel betrayed by an establishment, which deployed short termism in winning votes from those it now disregards.

The most valuable asset most people own in the UK, is the home that they live in. This personal space elicits emotions associated with familiarity, safety and even territoriality. The thought of being forced to hand this over to a faceless authority, in exchange for placement in featureless accommodation, is especially galling.

For permanent care, the value of your home might be considered, in a means testing process, at its present market value (less any secured debt and 10% to reflect sales expense).

Critically, however, a ‘property disregard’ order (from local authorities) may be attained, excluding your property from means testing.

Such orders are required to the extent that your property is currently occupied by one of:

  1. Your partner or former partner (unless estranged);
  2. An estranged or divorced partner if they are also a lone parent;
  3. A relative aged 60 or older or who is incapacitated.

Local authorities are able to grant discretionary property disregard, in circumstances where, for instance, a vulnerable, adult/child is resident in the home. Such orders must be sought and resistance may be met, depending on the attitude of the local authority. Though formal guidance exists as to when such discretion should be exercised by a council.

In determining whether sale of a jointly owned (i.e. where all relevant parties are treated as owning 100% of the house) property may be enforced, to fund residential care costs, a judge may look at the reason that it is jointly owned in the first place, and whether that reason persists. In the case of Chief Adjudication Officer (CAO) v Palfrey (1995),  the judge found that joint ownership was in place for the purpose of providing a family home (for Mr Palfrey and his daughter), and that this purpose persisted (even when Mr Palfrey was absent). The forced sale was blocked.

In the case of Wilkinson v CAO, however, in which a pair of siblings had inherited a property in equal part, no such purpose was shown to exist and enforced sale was upheld. Crucially, however, as in the case of tenants in common (whereby each owner holds a discrete share in the home), those forcing the sale must create a market for what amounts to ‘half a house’. Some assert that it is consequently preferable to hold a property as a tenant in common than a joint owner.

Seek advice urgently, if an authority tries to value a property by dividing its entire value by the number of co-owners or presents itself as a willing buyer. Ask yourself, what would I pay for ‘half a house’? Perhaps not very much.

 

The above does not constitute legal or financial advice and you should consult a professional. If you would like assistance with any of the issues raised please do feel free to contact Confidence Wills now at info@confidencewills.co.uk .

Why are lasting powers of attorney important?

Why are lasting powers of attorney important
  • Without them the authorities may place you in residential care
  • Decisions about how to spend your money could be made for you
  • The cost to your loved ones of gaining control may run to six figures
  • Many lose capacity FASTER than they are able to implement a document
  • Less than 1% of people have a lasting power of attorney in place
  • Confidence Wills offer one of the lowest cost routes to this set of documents

 

Lasting power of attorney documents (LPAs) allow you to name a third party to take control of your affairs should you lose the capacity to do so. Those you name are your ‘attorneys’ – you are known as the ‘donor’ with respect to an LPA. Attorneys owe a duty of care to the donor and are usually individuals you trust to take good care of you such as family members, though a professional firm may be appointed.

Briefly there are two forms of Lasting Power of Attorney: a ‘health and welfare’ LPA and a ‘property and financial affairs’ LPA. The former allows your attorney to make decisions regarding your (life sustaining) health care and wellbeing, the latter, on financial affairs. Crucially, both must be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian. I have described the form and effect of such documents in greater detail in earlier articles.

Unfortunately, it is estimated that only around 1% of people in the UK have an LPA in place. This statistic is troubling, since an estimated 1 person per minute suffers some condition resulting in potential loss of capacity e.g. Alzheimer’s Disease, traumatic brain injury, stroke, critical mental health issue.

There are misconceptions around the need for such a document, allow me to clarify a few of the more significant. Firstly, there is no pre-existing law permitting next of kin or spouses to make health decisions on behalf of those losing capacity. The ONLY way to assign someone to such tasks is by their having an LPA in place or having someone authorised to do so by the court of protection.

An application to have a deputy appointed AFTER someone has lost capacity can cost more than £150,000 in solicitor’s fees. This process can take up to 6 months. Even if successful, paralysis in procession of your affairs may prove catastrophic. Moreover, critical decisions like moving into (and paying for) residential care may be taken for you. An LPA avoids this cost and heartache.

Having worked with Alzheimer’s sufferers, I’m all too aware that it is often the superficially ‘sharpest’ who decline quickly. It was, in fact, a related observation that underpinned the formation of Confidence Wills. Few realise that is perfectly possible for dementia to cause loss of capacity in a shorter time than it takes to secure and implement an LPA (BMA).

The costs associated with preparation of such documents vary. Whilst it is possible to prepare such documents on a DIY basis, there is a relatively high risk of error. Market research conducted by Confidence Wills indicates prices, for support in the creation of documents, from solicitors and large will service companies/cooperatives in the £200-£500 per document range, i.e. £400- £1000 for both health and financial LPAs (for one person). For the avoidance of doubt, these prices capture face to face, over the phone and online services.

Critically, a lasting power of attorney MUST be registered with the Office of the Public Guardian for it to be valid, there is a fee associated with this (£82 at present for each document, so £164 for both health and welfare documents).

Whilst costs are material, the (financial and emotional) cost of failing to take such action may be inestimable. Owing to our particular history, Confidence Wills emphasises the importance of such documents, and offers a face to face service at prices below the range described above.

Please get in touch now to discuss options – Read more and get in touch

 

Who pays for my elderly parents home care?

who pay for my elderly parents home care
  • If it you need care for health reasons, the National Health Service funds.
  • If you need care for social reasons but lack resources, local authorities should pay.
  • If you have significant resources you may have to pay.

A critical consideration in determining who will pay for care is whether the care required is for social or health reasons.  If the latter, the NHS is required to pay for continuing care. The line between the two, however, is increasingly blurred and decisions may seem arbitrary.

NHS assessors should remain pragmatic though may, subjectively, appear to ‘down play’ health care components of care need, emphasising the social. Assessments may prove adversarial and the agenda of the assessors skewed (from the position of the claimant). By definition healthcare in the UK should be fee so care should be free.

In broad terms, a healthcare need may be defined as: one related to the treatment, control or prevention of disease, illness or disability and the care – plus after care – of the patient with these needs. This is the case even if care is not supplied by a healthcare professional.

A social care need is considered to be assistance with: daily living; maintaining independence; social interaction and accessing resources.

The guidance appears relatively clear though ambiguity persists and there are grey areas. I have been through such a conflict myself, in the case of my grandmother, who, despite debilitating dementia, was ultimately offered NHS funded healthcare on the basis of poor eyesight. My personal (and undoubtedly, emotionally coloured) experience was of a densely bureaucratic and recursive process, in search of reasons to reject the claim, and wilfully ignorant of neurological issues with behavioural sequiturs.

The provision of care support of any kind supervenes on local authorities’ duty of care to its citizenry. The factors to which this duty relates, might be summarised thus:

  1. Needs associated with physical or mental conditions?
  2. Inability to achieve two or more key goals or outcomes without care or support?
  3. Potential for the absence of support to significantly impact your care or well-being?

‘Key goals’, in this case includes functions such as: proper eating, personal hygiene, toilet use, dressing, safety at home, domestic hygiene, socialisation, work or education, use of key services.

If performance of the above requires help, is unduly time consuming or causes pain, care may be indicated. To establish this, a social care need assessment may take place. These are not adversarial but exploratory and (usually by telephone), seek to establish:

  • Emotional/social need
  • Skills
  • Views, culture and support network,
  • Health/housing need,
  • Your needs, and what you would like to happen.

After the assessment a care plan should be agreed detailing needs and help that can be provided. If there is no obvious healthcare need, means testing will then be applied to calculate what you must contribute to care and support.

If you would like to discuss any of the issues raised feel free to contact Confidence Wills now at www.confidencewills.co.uk#contacts