Costs of care: Your questions answered

We are often approached with questions relating to care and the mounting costs associated with independent living or going into a care home. We’ve addressed some of the common questions below:

Is our family home disregarded for means testing when it comes to care if a family member, such as a spouse, continues to live there?

Any property that is owned would be included as an asset and therefore it would come into consideration for means testing, even if one spouse requires the care. However, you could have some options if you don’t want to sell your home, such as changing ownership or setting up a trust to leave the house to your children in the event of your death, on the condition that the other partner can continue to live there.

Do I have to go into a local care home? I’d prefer to live nearer to my son so I’d consider moving to a different area.

There is nothing to say that you cannot choose where you live, even if you are in a care home. In these instances, the other spouse would be required to sell the house to allow you to relocate.

Before considering an option like this, though, think about the stress of the move and how it might affect you. Quite often, these situations involve a vulnerable or frail person. However, you might decide that as you are moving closer to your son, you can get some extra support once the move is complete.

My wife and I are joint owners on our property and we will need to sell up so that she can go into a care home. What happens to the proceeds of our property sale?

Some of our clients wonder if any proceeds from the sale of the house would technically be classed as belonging to the care home resident, and therefore force them to be means tested.

If you are ‘joint tenants’ you will both own the whole property, as opposed to ‘tenants in common’ where e.g. one spouse declares they own a bigger share than the other. You could also consider changing ownership of the property from joint tenants to tenants in common.  Once you own a share it should be possible to put that share in a trust for the benefit of the family.

You could also think about selling your property and buy another as this would discount the house from any financial assessment. Especially if you did a straight swap - so a £250,000 house for a £250,000 house elsewhere as it would be difficult to argue that there were any proceeds from the sale and therefore any assets to take into account.

However, one council may review liability in different ways, so it is always best to seek advice from those in the know.

There are solicitors, such as Downs, who are experienced in social care and would be able to advise the best thing for your situation. Contact us to find out more.

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