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Social Care White Paper

Trusts and Probate

Were the Government’s long-awaited plans for a much-needed overhaul of social care worth the wait? In a word, no.

The white paper on social care in England and new cap on care fees brings more confusion to an already confused system. It’s unlikely to save many people any money and does nothing to alleviate the immediate crisis facing social care.

There may be a positive difference for a very limited number of people but certainly not poorer pensioners.

It’s clear the safety net for individuals has some significant holes in it. None of us can rely on it and each of us should make both a health and a wealth plan. It’s time we stopped thinking of planning for the future as something we do in later life.

Day in day out we support older and vulnerable people facing issues like care home fee rises, poor quality of care, the desire to stay in your own home, and lack of access to funding for support for conditions like dementia. The earlier each of us begins, the more options we allow ourselves when we eventually do need support.

When thinking about protecting your home when it comes to paying for the cost of care, there are a few things to consider:

  • If you need to move into a care home, you’ll usually have a financial assessment to work out how much you’ll need to pay yourself. If you own your house and your spouse, partner or civil partner is still living there then a ‘property disregard’ could apply which means your home won’t be used to fund care costs.
  • However, the local authority will take income, including pensions, into account when they decide how much people will pay towards their own care. This may reduce the household income available to the spouse/partner who continues to live in the property.
  • In most cases, couples tend to own a property as joint tenants so that when one partner dies the property automatically passes to the survivor. One of the primary reasons people change this is to ensure their 50% share of the property passes to their children, rather than it automatically passing to a surviving spouse / partner (and consequently the whole value of the property being taken into account for the costs of care of the surviving partner / spouse). You can sever the joint tenancy over your property by written notice and then updating the ownership position with the Land Registry. You should then make a Will to ensure that your share of the property passes in accordance with your wishes. However, as an alternative, you may consider your home as an investment to fund your care. This would give you a greater ability to choose where you would like to be cared for (close to loved ones and relatives perhaps) and how (any preferences you may have that would incur a greater care cost).

Each individual’s circumstances are very different, so we’d always recommend speaking to a specialist solicitor.

Independent Age also has some good advice on their website and a free helpline: 0800 319 6789.

If you require further advice or support regarding this issue, please contact Andrea Beesley-Hewitt., Solicitor at Hegarty Solicitors, Stamford Office and member of SFE (Solicitors for the Elderly), the membership organisation for specialist solicitors who support older and vulnerable people by calling 01780 750 952 or email andrea.beesley-hewitt@hegarty.co.uk

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