How much can you keep before paying for care and how to avoid selling your house to pay for care?
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. Therefore, it is only natural that people are looking at protecting their assets from nursing home fees and looking at how to avoid, and not sell, their property when going into care.
This is especially the case if you are looking to leave your family home to your children.
One of the most regular questions we get asked is how to avoid selling your house to pay for care.
On this page, we will explain:
– The 20 most important questions to consider when thinking about how to avoid care home fees or home care costs
– Protecting your assets from nursing homes and how this interacts with the expectations of your local authority
– Putting your house in trust to avoid care home fees and what counts as a deprivation of assets
– How much can you keep before paying for care
– Gifts to avoid care home fees
– If you can you dispose of your assets before going in to care
– How to decide what the best way is to pay for your care costs
– Where you can get financial advice to help determine how to pay your care costs. This is essential if you have complex affairs.
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 paying for care home fees and home care fees is to get financial advice as early as possible.
One option that many people look at is to use equity release to avoid paying care home fees. This allows you to take money out of your home and avoid having to pay care home fees.
Out of curiosity, we recommend you try the calculator below and see how much money, tax-free, you could get out of your house. In the meantime, watch this video on how equity release works.
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. This means that they are not included, by your local authority, in any calculation to determine the value of your capital when assessing nursing home costs.
As long as all the actions you take are legal, a consequence may be that you are able to avoid care fees.
At the very least, protecting your assets from care fees is not possible if you have assets (including any property) worth over £23,250 collectively. You can read more here about paying for care home costs if you feel you will need to pay these.
£23,250 is the threshold below which local authorities in England will begin to subsidise or fully cover the cost of your care – depending on your circumstances. You can read more about the savings thresholds for England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland below.
Effectively this means you avoid paying nursing home costs yourself. However, even in this instance, council-funded care may not meet your personal preferences or requirements.
How much can you keep before paying for care depends on where you live in the UK.
It is difficult to protect your home and avoid care fees unless your assets are below the threshold in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
How much you can keep before paying for care, and therefore the savings threshold for care home fees, differs depending on which part of the UK you live:
If you have savings and assets above this, then it is likely that you will have to pay for your care. If you share your home with a spouse or partner then you will need to consider their circumstances too.
The above saving thresholds include any savings and income, such as a pension. Your property may be counted as capital after 12 weeks if you move into a care home on a long-term basis.
However, it won’t be counted if, say, your spouse or partner still lives there. Once your savings fall below £14,250, only income is considered for a means-assessment.
You will, therefore, need to think about how you invest your savings to ensure they work as hard as possible for you. Therefore, we strongly recommend that you get financial advice.
Many people are concerned about the possibility of a family member, particularly a daughter, continuing to reside in their home after they have moved into care. The house’s ownership status is the primary factor determining the viability of this arrangement.
If you are the sole owner of the property, you have the authority to determine who can reside there. However, making arrangements to ensure your wishes are carried out even if you are absent or unable to communicate is essential. Creating a living trust or transferring ownership to your daughter can provide the legal framework for her to continue living in the house.
When planning for this scenario, it is also important to consider the financial implications. Your property may be considered an asset if your care is financed through a means-tested programme.
Depending on local regulations and the specifics of your situation, this could affect your eligibility for assistance. During a “disregard period” in some areas, the value of your home is not factored into financial assessments.
Typically, this occurs when a relative, like your daughter, continues to reside in the home. It is crucial to consult a financial advisor or attorney to comprehend the potential impact on your financial situation and care funding.
Finally, it is essential to consider your daughter’s emotional impact. The house may hold many cherished memories for both of you, and remaining in it during significant change could provide comfort and stability.
To avoid care costs in the United Kingdom, you may be tempted to give your home to your son.
Due to ‘deprivation of assets’ regulations, however, this is generally not advised.
The local government may view such a transfer as an intentional deprivation of assets. If they believe you transferred the property to avoid paying for care, they can still assess you as the property’s owner.
The duration of the present is also irrelevant. There is no predetermined’safe’ period after which the council cannot consider the loss of assets.
Even if the transfer was completed many years before the care was required, it could still be contested.
There are also substantial risks associated with giving away your property. For instance, if your son were to file for bankruptcy or get a divorce, the property could be considered an asset.
Tax implications are another factor to consider. Your son may be subject to capital gains tax or inheritance tax, depending on the circumstances.
Before making such a decision, it is strongly recommended to seek professional counsel.
Numerous variables are at play, and the rules surrounding care costs and asset deprivation are intricate.
In conclusion, while it is technically possible to gift your home to your son, doing so to avoid care costs can have unintended consequences and is generally frowned upon by UK councils.
“How to not sell your property when going in to care” is one of the most popular questions we get asked and people are keen to understand what their options are.
Many people do look to put their house into a trust, so they can avoid care fees and pass their home on to their children.
However, this is not straightforward and your local authority may look at whether you put your home in trust solely for the reason to avoid your care costs.
There is more information on this below. If you do find yourself having to find a care home, you can read more about it on this site.
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.
Therefore, on its own, you cannot sell your house to avoid care fees unless you have some specific financial circumstances or if your family home has already been put in trust.
This is why early planning is required. You also cannot put your assets into a trust purely to avoid care home costs. There is a risk that this could be seen as a deprivation of assets
When paying for care, a common concern is whether or not the government can seize your home. This question’s answer depends on several variables, including local laws and regulations governing care payments and property rights.
In certain circumstances, the government may place a lien on a person’s property to recover the cost of care. This means that the government may claim the individual’s property if they cannot pay for their care.
Nonetheless, this typically occurs when a person’s assets, income, and savings have been depleted, and they are eligible for government assistance.
The conditions under which the government may seize your home to pay for your care vary considerably.
Consult a legal professional or an elder law attorney familiar with the laws in your jurisdiction to understand the potential risks and safeguards in place.
There may be legal safeguards and mechanisms in place to protect your property.
A spouse or dependent relative who continues to reside in the home may be exempt from the government’s claim in some areas.
Additionally, the amount that can be recovered from the property may be limited, especially if it is the primary residence.
To ensure that you are well informed and protected, planning and investigating options for financing care and safeguarding your assets is prudent.
The assistance of professionals specialising in elder law, estate planning, or financial planning can be invaluable when navigating these complex issues.
As mentioned above, if you purposefully give away your house, money, wealth, capital or property with the aim of ensuring they are not counted towards a financial assessment for care costs this could be classed as deliberate deprivation of assets. Generally, if you did the transfer a few months before going in to care them this is likely to be seen as depriving yourself of your assets.
Your local authority or council will make an assessment on whether they think you have deliberately given away your assets. If they decide that you have done this with the aim of avoiding paying your care costs, they may still calculate your fees on the basis that you still owned them.
However, the decisions that Local Authorities make can also be challenged.
If you were fit and healthy when you transferred your assets, and could not have imagined needing care and support at the time, then it may not count as deprivation of assets.
To be clear, it is is still possible to put your house into a trust if the reason isn’t to solely avoid care fees. Please read below for more information on how you can do this.
The act of giving away your money and assets is in itself, not the only thing that can be assessed. Deliberate attempts to reduce your money or assets could also be included.
For example, this could include:
– Gifting someone your money, both in and outside your family
– Transferring the ownership of your home to someone else in your family, so they aren’t included in the financial assessment for care fees
– Demonstrating unusual spending patterns and spending large sums on things you may not normally do so
– Gambling with your money
– Buying things, such as jewellery or a car, which might otherwise not be included when you are doing a financial assessment
Many people think about “how to avoid selling your house to pay for care” and decide that they will sign over their house to their children.
However, simply signing your house over to avoid care costs isn’t possible if it is done a few months before you go in to care. This would, in all likelihood, be seen as a deprivation of your assets. Likewise you cant just use the money to decorate your house and spend it all that way..
But, if the transfer is done a few years before you go in to care, then it could be possible.
We would recommend you speak to a trust specialist so that they can tell you whether it could work for you. You can find details of who to contact below.
What approaches can I use to reduce the value of my capital and property?
The most common approaches that we see, to give away ownership of your assets, without possibly breaking the rules of your council and local authority, are below.
However, we would recommend you speak to a specialist before you do this:-
One thing you may hear some recommend is what is formally known as ‘disposal of assets’. Again, this is just another type of deprivation of your assets. This is different from putting your house into a trust to avoid care home fees.
This is where individuals ‘hide’ their money, so it isn’t included in a means tests by their local authority or council.
However, despite what some may say this is never a safe strategy – local authorities and councils 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.
Certain types of assets are not included in calculating a person’s ability to pay for nursing home expenses in the United Kingdom. Include the value of your primary residence if your spouse or a dependent still resides there.
Life insurance policies and annuities are also exempt, provided they do not provide a regular income. P
ersonal possessions such as jewellery, furniture, or a car are also exempt, as they are typically not considered.
If occupational and personal pensions are partially used to support a spouse or civil partner, they may not be counted in full. Typically, compensation awards held in trust or administered by a court are also exempt.
The value of a business can also be disregarded, particularly if a family member relies on its income for support. Personal injury compensation payments administered by a court or held in a trust may also be exempt from taxation.
Under certain conditions, the value of a property may be disregarded, such as when an elderly or disabled relative resides there. Understanding which assets are exempt from care home fees is essential for effective financial planning for long-term care in the United Kingdom.
Typically, you will not lose your home if your husband enters a nursing home in the United Kingdom. If a spouse or partner continues to reside in the home, its value is disregarded when calculating nursing home costs.
This principle is incorporated into the “means test” for social care, which determines how much individuals should contribute towards their care. This test takes into account income, savings, and other capital, but not the home if a spouse is still living there.
Despite this, there may be exceptions or complex circumstances in which professional assistance would be advantageous. For example, if a property is jointly owned, the structure of that ownership can impact its status in care fee assessments.
If the property is held as “tenants in common,” each partner owns a specific portion. This could potentially allow for some care fee planning, although this is a complex area that requires guidance.
It is important to note, however, that ‘deprivation of assets’ rules mean you cannot simply give away your property to avoid paying care costs. Such actions, if considered intentional, could still be factored into the means test.
When navigating the complexities of care home fees, it is always recommended to seek expert guidance. Care funding regulations can be complex, and adhering to them correctly is essential for protecting your assets.
There are often very legitimate reasons that you may have for wanting to give someone a gift via a transfer of ownership of your property. The impact of which, years down the line, maybe that the value of these assets are not counted when assessing whether you need to meet your care fees.
Therefore, it is possible to transfer money and give gifts to avoid care home fees. However, do get financial advice before you make any gifts so that you are aware of any potential consequences.
Popular reasons for gifting assets, include:
Stopping family disputes before they occur
Being proactive with dividing your assets early can stop any issues further down the line, and you can do it whilst you’re in full control
Wanting to see the recipient of the gift enjoy it whilst you can
You may want to help your children out with the purchase of a home or start a business, so you give them the money to do so
Recognising the support provided by an individual
During your lifetime there may have been an individual that was very supportive and has made a strong contribution to your lifestyle, and you want to thank them for that
Avoiding delays on distributing your estate on death
If you still retained the property in your sole name on death, a grant of probate would be required to deal with it.
Let someone else have the responsibility of maintaining your house
The task of looking after and maintaining your property may become difficult. Therefore, you may wish someone else to have the responsibility to look after it.
Giving away your home is something that you need to think carefully about. Many people think that they can protect their assets from nursing home fees by just giving them away. Please read below about the concept of notional capital and how it could apply to your circumstances.
However, by giving away the ownership of your assets and, say your family home, it can leave you financially exposed in other ways, even if the person that you gifted the property doesn’t intend to do so.
Examples of this would include:
Bankruptcy – You never know what may happen in the future. If the person you gifted the property to has financial problems or becomes bankrupt, it is possible that the property would be taken to who the debt is owed
Divorce – If the person who received the gift gets divorced, then your home will make up the value of the estate that needs to be divided on divorce
Death – If the person who was gifted the property was to die, then the property will be passed on along the wishes set out in their Will. These may not be in line with what you would have wanted
Family – Unfortunately, family members fall out all the time. Therefore, if you are on the wrong side of the fallout, it is possible that you could also lose your property.
Sometimes, a less risky approach to avoiding care home fees, and just giving the money and wealth away as a gift, is to put your house into a trust instead. Whilst on its own a Trust won’t always stop you avoiding care fees they can potentially be used to mitigate them.
Therefore, whilst it may seem appealing putting property into a Trust to avoid care home fees, it is something you need to be very careful about.
However, that said, there may be other very real reasons as to why you have to put your property into a trust. A consequence of this is that your property may then excluded from any financial assessment. So, in the right circumstances, it is possible to avoid meeting care fees without it being seen as a deprivation of assets.
When planning for the future, the question of whether next of kin are responsible for nursing home costs frequently arises. It is important to note that the person receiving care is typically responsible for paying their nursing home fees.
Nonetheless, the situation can become complicated based on the particulars of the financial and legal arrangements.
The definition of “next of kin” is crucial to this discussion.
Typically, next of kin refers to the closest surviving relative or relatives, such as children and spouses. Being a relative does not automatically impose financial obligations or debts, such as nursing home fees, on an individual.
The individual’s financial responsibility for nursing home costs is primarily determined by his or her income, savings, and assets.
In some jurisdictions, certain assets, such as a person’s home, may be considered if there is no surviving spouse or dependent relative living there.
Consequently, the individual receiving care is typically financially responsible.
When a person’s resources are exhausted, he or she may be eligible for state assistance or benefits. In such instances, the government can assist with nursing home fees.
However, the specifics can vary greatly based on local laws and regulations, and it is always advisable to consult a professional for individualised guidance.
Sometimes, families contribute voluntarily to nursing home fees. This is typically a personal decision rather than a legal requirement.
It is essential to remember that anyone who chooses to contribute should do so in a way that does not compromise their own financial stability.
Essentially, a trust is legally recognised and can be enforced by a court of law. The rules are often set out in the trust deed and rules, and these dictate how the trust will work.
A trust is a legal entity in itself. It will have its own bank account and assets. Due to this, when the Trust is set up, it is registered with HMRC.
The trust will have a set of Trustees who are responsible for looking after the rules of the Trust. Typically, it is your children that are named as the Trustees.
There are many different types of Trusts that you can use. Three examples are:
– Life Interest Trusts – Allows you to allocate a beneficiary (usually yourself and/or a spouse /partner or family members) 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.
– 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’. This video explains how this type of trust works.
Not considering the potential tax implications when establishing a trust fund in the United Kingdom is one of the most common mistakes made by parents. Trusts may be subject to various taxes, including income tax, capital gains tax, and inheritance tax, which, if not properly planned for, can significantly reduce the value of the trust.
Another frequent error is overlooking the adaptability of the trust structure. If parents choose the wrong type of trust, they may have less control over the funds and how they are used, which may not be in line with their intended purpose for the trust.
Unsuitable trustee selection is another frequent error. Trustees have significant responsibilities and control over the trust, so it is essential to select individuals who are trustworthy, dependable, and capable of effectively managing the trust’s affairs.
Another pitfall is not clearly defining the terms of the trust. Without clear instructions regarding when and how the trust’s assets should be distributed, disputes may arise, and the trust’s beneficiaries may not receive the benefits that their parents intended.
Some parents fail to consider how a trust fund could affect their child’s motivation and ambition. A trust fund could inadvertently discourage beneficiaries from pursuing their own careers or financial independence if it is not properly structured.
Lastly, when establishing a trust fund, many parents do not seek professional advice. Due to the complexity of trusts and their legal and tax implications, consulting a financial advisor or attorney can aid in avoiding these errors.
In conclusion, the biggest error parents can make when establishing a trust fund is failing to fully comprehend their options and the consequences of their decisions. Professional guidance is essential for navigating this intricate procedure and ensuring that the trust achieves its intended purpose.
The amount of money you can keep when entering a nursing home in the United Kingdom depends on your financial situation and the local authority’s means-tested assessment. Your income, savings, and property ownership are considered to determine how much you can retain.
If your capital (savings and investments) and property exceed the £23,250 threshold in England, you will be expected to contribute to your care costs. However, your primary residence may be disregarded if certain conditions are met, such as the presence of a spouse, an elderly relative, or a dependent child.
The minimum capital requirement for nursing home contributions in Scotland is $28,000. If your assets exceed this threshold, you will be required to contribute to the cost of care. However, the value of your property is not factored into the calculation of your contribution.
The minimum capital requirement for nursing home contributions in Wales is £50,000. If your assets exceed this threshold, you may be required to contribute to your care expenses.
The assessment may also include the value of your property, but safeguards are in place to protect your home if certain conditions are met.
Currently, the capital threshold for nursing home contributions in Northern Ireland is £14,250. If your assets exceed this threshold, you may be required to contribute to your care costs.
The assessed value of your property is considered, but safeguards are in place to prevent the forced sale of your home under certain conditions.
Noting that the rules and thresholds may change over time, it is prudent to seek professional financial advice to understand the current regulations and options for protecting your assets while entering a nursing home in the United Kingdom.
Various financial planning strategies, such as gifting assets, establishing trusts, and purchasing annuities, may be considered to optimise your financial situation and mitigate the impact of care home costs.
A financial advisor specialising in long-term care planning can assist you in navigating the complexities of funding nursing home care while protecting your assets to the greatest extent possible.
The extent of the power your Local Authority has can often be challenged as there is at times some subjectivity involved.
However, you should note that if you do enter care within 6 months of gifting your assets and property, the council can still send the bill for the care costs to the person that the gift was gifted too. So, if for example, you gave your family home to your children, then they could be responsible for meeting your care fees.
Likewise, if you set up a trust, the local authority can still approach the Trustees of the trust, irrespective of the time it was set up.
The difficulty with gifting assets is that there is no legal time limit in which the local authority can assume that you have ownership of the asset even if you have given it away.
You could have gifted your assets many years previously, and they can still count.
Whilst it is not a hard and fast rule if the gift was made whilst you were in good health then it is harder for the local authority to link the giving away of the asset with the aim of avoiding care fees.
The value of the assets that were given away is called ‘notional capital’.
The value of a person’s ‘notional capital’ will be included in their overall asset value when they have their financial assessment.
So, in the example of giving your family home to your children, not only could you end up with the double whammy of having to pay for your care and also not having a house to fund your care costs.
In short, the answer to this is maybe. All funding options should be considered, and it is important that equity release is considered as part of that. You can read more here about how equity release works.
You can also see a video on how equity release works on youtube.
Essentially, a scheme will allow you to borrow money against the value of your family house. However, it will only be available if you intend to receive care at home.
Many schemes will not apply once you move into a care home. If you are able to access it, 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 these schemes is something we strongly suggest you consider if you decide to take care at home. This is a very complex area, and you do need to seek advice.
You can also see a video on the pros and cons of equity release on youtube.
The good news for individuals requiring care and their families is that plenty of funding options are 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 guides:
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.
Here is a video on how a care annuity works
The amount that you can get as a tax-free lump sum will depend on the value of your property.
Try the calculator below to see how much money you could receive to help pay for your care costs.
We have a directory of UK care fees funding specialists who can give you advice on care home fees and what the best options are for you to manage your money and wealth and not pay any more than you need to for your care.
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.
Your funds and assets: How much money do you have? This includes savings, bonds, shares, your family home 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. Likewise, you may be thinking about inheritance tax planning.
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 Widows Pension 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 councils also differ geographically.
The quality of council care homes in your area (and the funding assistance on offer) may influence your decision.