If these don’t answer your questions, feel free to ask!
Q. Who qualifies for local authority financial assistance?
If you have been assessed as needing a care home place and your capital is below £23,250, you should be entitled to financial support from your local authority. If you have capital below £14,250 you will be entitled to maximum support although you will still contribute your income less £23.90 per week retained for personal expenses. If you have capital between £14,250 and £23,250 you will also pay a capital tariff of £1 per week for each £250 or part thereof between these two figures.
If your assets, which may include your property, are calculated to be above £23,250 you will, in most cases, be expected to privately pay for your own care.
Q. If the State is paying do I have a choice of care home?
Yes – as long as the home will accept the local authority rate. The local authority pays below the normal cost of the care home so some care homes will not accept state funded residents. Some care homes will allow top ups from relatives to make up the difference.
Q. How do I pay for care home fees?
Financial planning for care home fees is a complex area, especially if you are thinking about Inheritance Tax planning too. Every person has different circumstances and different needs, so there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. We look at your individual requirements and arrange a bespoke solution for you which will cover all areas of your planning.
Q. How does your care advice service work?
There may be more options for funding care than you realise and it is important to carefully consider all of them. Most clients approach us with an aim to preserve as much capital as possible whilst meeting the cost of care for the rest of their lifetime. Our advice service provides you with help and guidance throughout the whole process from start to finish, helping you through the maze of local authorities, state funding, use of investments/cash, assessments, how best to pay for care fees and helping your family through what can be a difficult time. You can choose a one off service or a regular review service, whichever fits your needs at the time.
Q. Can I still receive State Benefits if I am paying for my own care?
Whilst in care, the entitlement to State Benefits can continue if you are paying for your own care. The two most common benefits for those who require care and pay for it themselves are Attendance Allowance and the Registered Nursing Care Contribution. Claiming benefits can become quite complex so you need to get advice.
Q. What happens if I move into a care home and run out of money?
Once your capital reduces to £23,250, you can seek local authority assistance. However, if the home costs more than the local authority usually pays and won’t reduce its fees, you could be in the difficult situation of either finding a source of top-up or seeking less expensive accommodation. If there is a likelihood of running out of money, it’s important for you to arrange an assessment of your care needs with the local social services department to ensure they will step into help. Also check if the care home owner can continue to accommodate you at social services funding rates, or will require a third party top-up.
Q. Will you come and visit us for an initial consultation?
Yes. It often helps to see you in your own home as we learn more about the people we are advising. We are always happy to invest our time in showing you what we can do and will typically visit our potential clients in their home or place of work for their complementary initial consultation. Of course, if you prefer to visit us, then we would love to see you here.
Q. Will my partner’s income and assets be taken into account?
Only the income and assets of the person taking the care home place can be assessed – a partner or relative’s income and assets cannot be taken into account. If you own an asset jointly eg a bank account, then you are each deemed to own 50%.
Q. I have heard the NHS can fund care fees – is this true?
NHS funding is available but is notoriously hard to get hold of. Your relative will need to be assessed by your local Primary Care Trust to see if they qualify for fully-funded NHS care. It is important this is done correctly and can be reviewed. If you do not feel the assessment reflects the true position, you can challenge this and our solicitors are happy to help with this if required.
Q. When should I start planning to pay for care fees?
Often people leave this until a crisis has happened, and whilst we can help at this time, and indeed we help people who have been in care for a while, the earlier advice is requested, the more capital we are likely to be able to preserve and the longer the capital is likely to last. We can help with benefits powers of attorney and inheritance tax planning, even if care is not needed just yet.
Q. My father has just gone into care and I have sold his house as his Attorney to pay for his care. How should I invest this capital to pay for his care fees?
As an Attorney, you need to invest the money in a way that is best for your father’s health and wellbeing. It will need to provide him with sufficient monies to pay for his care fees for as long as possible. You could invest it for income or look at a Care Annuity which will pay care fees for the rest of his life. We often recommend a mix of solutions to ensure the money is working the hardest it can, whilst retaining some flexibility and capital protection.
Q. lf I give my property to my children, will that mean the State will pay my care fees?
The Local Authority have the power to overturn something you have done if they feel you have done it to deliberately deprive yourself of capital, or a benefit of some kind, or income. It’s called ‘deliberate deprivation’. They look at your intentions, your reasons for doing something, and when you did it.
If you cannot provide evidence for why you gave your property away for nothing, then the Local Authority can argue that you did it to minimise or avoid your liability for care fees. They can then ignore whatever you have done, and calculate your care fees as though you own the asset anyway.
Q. Over what time can a Local Authority look back for deliberate deprivation of assets?
In relation to care fees, there is no fixed time scale. As a general rule the Local Authority is actually only supposed to go back six months but they have the ability, where something is suspicious to them, to investigate as far back as they want. Given the limited budgets that Local Authorities now have, we are expecting them to look back further and ignore certain transactions made in the past for the purposes of assessment.
Q. If I put my property into a Trust, I won’t have to pay for my care fees. Is this true?
This probably won’t work. There are numerous individuals who generally try to persuade people to pay between £3,000 and £7,000 for a trust on the grounds that it will guarantee that the property cannot be considered for care fees assessments. However, Local Authorities are wise to this and are noting down the companies involved, so if you have such a trust, it is likely to be challenged. There are ways to plan for the future and we recommend that you take qualified legal advice before entering into any type of Trust contract.
Q. How do I know if my adviser is Qualified to discuss Care Fees?
All advisers have to have passed a Chartered Insurance Institute exam (CF8) to discuss care fees planning, and an Equity Release exam (ER1) to discuss equity release schemes. It is recommended that you speak to accredited members of SOLLA (Society of Later Life Advisers) as not only have they had their qualifications checked but they have also undergone professional training in this area. You can check whether your adviser is accredited on the SOLLA website (www.societyoflaterlifeadvisers.co.uk)