Can you avoid care home fees?

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Avoiding Care Home Fees – Is it possible?

It can be a shock to many people when they find out they may have to pay over £100,000 for their care home costs.

On this page, we will explain:

– The 10 most important questions to consider when thinking about avoiding care home fees

– Whether you can put a house in to trust to avoid care home fees

– What options you have to pay for your care home fees

– If you can you dispose of your assets before going in to care

– How to decide which care funding option may be right for you

– Where you can get professional help to decide how decide how to pay your fees

One of the most difficult aspects of the realisation care is needed is the financial impact individuals and their families face.

The costs can be high and its only natural that people consider whether there is a possibility to protect their home from care fees.  In fact, one of the most popular questions we get asked on our website is how much money can i give away before going into a nursing home?

As you will see below, this is not a simple question to answer.

Often a need for care gradually develops, but it’s still an unwelcome prospect to have to consider. Because people rarely like to think about ill health and care provision they don’t set aside the money they need to in the right way – which can lead to a range of issues further down the line.

Whether you’re in the later stages of considering care or would like information ahead of time so that you can plan accordingly, in this article we explain how you can mitigate rather then wholly avoid care home fees can have through information and careful planning.

A 60 second round up of this article 

– You cannot deliberately look to avoid care home fees by putting your property in to trust to avoid care home fees.  Doing this on purpose is seen as depriving yourself of assets. If you do this, your property may still be assessed when your assets are calculated

– It is possible to put your property in to a Trust and assign your property to someone else.  However, there have to be other reasons as to why you put your property in to a trust and not just because you don’t want to pay your care fees.

– The three main types of Trusts that people use to protect there property are typically: Protective Property Trust, Life Interest Trust, Interest in Possession Trust

– We VERY strongly recommend that you speak to a Trust specialist if you want to consider these options so you can ensure the trust is valid and you are not doing it simply to deprive yourself of assets.  You can leave your contact details below and we will help you.

– Other methods to consider include domiciliary care and having care at home.   If you own your own property, you can look at Equity Release.  This allows you to take money out of your house and use that to fund your care.

The 10 most important questions to consider when looking at avoiding care home fees

1 – How much money can I give away before going into a nursing home to avoid care home fees?

The simple answer to this is you cannot simply give your money away.  HOWEVER, there are some circumstances where it may be possible to give away your assets and not have them included in any calculation to determine the value of your assets when assessing care home fees.

On its own, you cannot avoid care home fees unless you have some specific financial circumstances or if your property has already been put in trust.  This is why early planning is required. You cannot put your assets in to a trust purely to avoid care home fees.  This is seen as a deprivation of assets

At the very least, avoiding care home fees is not possible if you have assets (including property) worth over £23,500 collectively.  You can read more here where we answer important questions about paying for care home costs.

This is the threshold at which local authorities will begin to subsidise or fully cover the cost of your care – depending on your circumstances. Effectively this means you avoid paying care home fees yourself. However even in this instance, local authority funded care may not meet your personal preferences or requirements.

Many people do look to put their house in to trust to avoid care home fees.  However, this is not straight forward.  There is more information on this below.

Making the right decision at the right time can significantly increase the likelihood of you being able to retain your property, leave an inheritance and keep some disposable income behind for whatever you wish.

2 – What if I am in the later stages of the care decision-making process?

Although it may be too late for you to lay detailed financial plans to protect your assets fully, there are some options available for you to consider.

These include equity release and deferred payment schemes 

3 – Can I dispose of my assets before going in to care?

One thing you may hear some recommend is what is formally known as ‘disposal of assets’.  This is different to putting your house in to a trust to avoid care home fees.

This is where individuals ‘hide’ their money to avoid it being included in means tests by their local authority.

However despite what some may say this is never a safe strategy – local authorities are increasingly becoming adept at checking up on and identifying those who are disposing of their assets and looking at avoiding care home fees. When disposal of assets is suspected you will be means tested using those funds by default – so you won’t gain anything or benefit from attempting to hide them.

4 – Can I put my property into trust to avoid care home fees?

Whilst it may seem appealing putting your property in to a trust to avoid care home fees, it is something you need to be very careful about.   It is certainly not as easy as many people make out, as you can’t be seen to put your house in to trust solely for the purpose of avoiding your care home fees.

However, that said, there may be other very real reasons as to why you have to our your property in to a trust and a consequence of this is that your property is also excluded from any assessment to see whether you need to pay care home fees.

By putting your house in to a trust, you would name someone as the Trustee/s (typically your children).  If you were to then go in to care your home would be excluded from any calculation to establish the value of your assets.  Whilst this approach may seem the perfect way to use a trust to avoid care home fees, the reality is that it is far more complex.

With many local authorities under financial pressure they are are being proactive in looking for cases where people are using trusts to avoid fees.  In these types of cases they may well challenge the reason behind using a trust.

5 – What type of trusts can I use to pass on my property?

There are many reasons as to why you may want to put a property in to trust.  The three main types are:

– Protective Property Trusts – They allow you to save a portion of your property to pass on to loved ones. They are also known as ‘Property Trust wills’

– Life Interest Trusts – Allows you to allocate a beneficiary (usually yourself and/or a spouse or family member) who then has the legal right to receive income from or use a property named in the trust

– Interest in Possession Trusts – It’s a kind of trust fund set up to entitle the beneficiary to any income as soon as it is produced.  They are very similar to Life Interest Trusts.

If you are thinking of using a Trust, then we cannot recommend strongly enough that you speak to a specialist in Trusts.   Leave your details at the bottom of this page and we will arrange for a Trust specialist to give you a call and see what options you may have available to you.

6 – How can I pay for my care fees?

As stated above, it is very hard to protect your home from care fees care home fees unless your assets are below the threshold.

The good news for individuals requiring care and their families is that there are plenty of funding options on the table – provided the financial aspect of care is considered early enough. The sooner provisions are made the more flexible options you have.

Careful planning can ensure you fund your care in the most efficient way possible and avoid paying any unnecessary costs.  An advisor can help you look at your options as well as ensure you claim all of the benefits you are entitled to.  Therefore, mitigation rather than avoidance is the key.

Options include (but are not limited to) the following. You can find out more about each of these in our handy care funding guides:

1. Care Annuity

2. Rental of Property 

3. Equity Release  – You can click here to find a specialist that can help you see if equity release is the best option for you.

4. Deferred Payment Schemes

However this can also be a challenging prospect – as with so many options available it can be difficult to know which choice to make. This is why sound, professional advice is so important.

7 – Is equity release an option I should consider?

In short, the answer to this is maybe.   All funding options should be considered and its important that equity release is considered as part of that.  You can read more here about how equity release works.

Essentially, a scheme will allow you to borrow money against the value of your house.  However, equity release schemes will only be available if you intend to receive care at home.

Many schemes will not apply once you move in to a care home.  If you are able to access equity release, you can use this to meet your care costs, make home improvements to make life a little more comfortable and continue living in your home.  The lending is then only repaid on death.

The popularity and growth in equity release schemes is something we strongly suggest you consider if you decide to take care at home.  This is a very complex area and you you do need to seek advice.

Click the Calculator below to find out how much cash you can take out of your house tax free.

8 – Who can help me consider my equity release options?

Option 1 – Find an advisor in our directory of advisors

We have created a directory of advisors that specialise in helping people find the right equity release provider.  The directory has advisors listed from all over the country.   You can access the equity release advisor directory here.

Option 2 – Let us, the UK Care Guide, find an advisor for you for FREE

If you do not feel confident in choosing an advisor, you can leave your details below, and we will find an advisor for you.   We do not charge for this service and it is absolutely free.

Here is a video from Martin Lewis on ‘This Morning’ explaining why you should speak to a specialist before taking on an equity release plan.

9 – How do I know which funding option is right for me?

With a number of options on the table (each with rather complicated criteria and features) it can be difficult to feel confident in making a decision. You want to ensure that whatever decision you make is right for you – which is why information and professional advice is key.

Your choice will depend on your personal financial situation and preferences – but there are a few key things you’ll need to consider.

Things you need to consider

Your funds and assets: How much money do you have? This includes savings, bonds, shares, property and other assets.

Your prognosis: Is your health likely to stay the same or deteriorate? Have you budgeted for either eventuality?

Inheritance Plans: If you wish to leave money or property to your relatives this will affect the type of care funding you choose.

Benefits and pensions: Are you claiming everything you’re entitled to? Could choosing one of care funding option mean that you lose your benefits? Women and men whose spouse or civil partner died before 2005 in the armed services may also be entitled to an additional War Widows or War Widowers pension.

You can find details of which benefits you may be entitled to on the gov.uk website or through booking an appointment at your local Citizens Advice Bureau.

Personal preferences: If you are very specific about the type of care home you’d like to live in (perhaps you already have one in mind) – it’s important to know the cost of this and ensure you can meet that cost indefinitely.

Local authority provision: Some local authority care homes are very good. Others are not. The deferred payment schemes offered by local authorities also differ geographically. The quality of local authority care homes in your area (and the funding assistance on offer) may influence your decision.

Preparation is key

Many people find themselves in denial as their health starts to deteriorate. Even though they approach old age with mobility issues or memory loss they delay considering residential care altogether.

This means that they don’t make any provisions financially in case they do need to access domiciliary or residential care in the future.

The key to avoiding care home fees is to get professional help as early as possible. Often people put off considering care and its financial implications because they don’t like to think of future issues; but it’s imperative to plan just in case to ensure you can provide the best possible care for yourself without losing out.

10 – Where can I find some help?

The best way to ensure you can properly provide for a care requirement in the future is to enlist the help of a specialist advisor. This is a financial expert who can clearly assess your situation and work with the assets you have to ensure you can provide funding for care yourself. In some cases they’ll even be able to secure inheritance for your loved ones – but the earlier they are involved, the better.

Visit our directory of financial advisors  who can help you find the best way to fund your care costs.  

Looking for a care home? Watch our video on “5 steps to choosing a care home”

Watch our short video on practical steps to choosing a care home.

 


Do you have a question about avoiding care home fees,  or using a Trust to protect your property? If so, please leave it below and a specialist will help you.