If you want to discuss your problem with an adviser face to face you can do so at one of our advice centres in Cranleigh, Farnham, Godalming and Haslemere (which was among the first 200 advice centres opened in 1939 incidentally).
Helen (not her real name) was quite clear about what she wanted to know when she met with an adviser. If she had to move to a care home would she still be able to leave her house to her daughter or would it have to be sold to pay for care home fees?
Although she was born in 1938, the year before Citizens Advice opened its first bureau, Helen is in good health and has no current care needs. She did feel strongly however that:
· she and her husband (who had died three years ago) had worked hard to pay off their mortgage
· regardless of her care needs, she should be able to pass on the benefits of their efforts to their daughter, a single mother living in rented accommodation.
The adviser explained that Helen’s care needs and financial status would be assessed by the local authority responsible for social care (which is Surrey County Council in Waverley). The amount Helen would have to pay for her care (including care home fees) would depend on her capital assets. Helen confirmed she had savings of £5,000 and she estimated the value of her house to be £300,000. Under the current rules Helen’s assets are well in excess of the upper limit which applies in England (£23,250) and she would be fully liable for care home fees.
To find out whether the value of Helen’s house could be disregarded from the financial assessment or what would happen if she sold or gifted her house read on.
· The value of the resident’s home must be disregarded for the first twelve weeks that the resident is in residential accommodation on a permanent basis. This allows a period during which the sale of the house can take place.
· The disregard will only apply if the local authority has approved the resident’s move to the care home.
· If the resident owns a property which is occupied by certain groups, including a spouse, civil partner or other partner and there has been no divorce, estrangement or dissolution, the value of the property must be disregarded.
· Any arrangement made for the specific purpose of avoiding care home fees is likely to count as deliberate deprivation of capital and the resident may be treated as still having the asset.
· Helen would need to seek specialist advice from a solicitor about the process of transfer and the possible consequences before taking any action.
· Basically, the longer the time between giving away capital or assets and the start of care the less likely it is that local authority can prove the transfer was made to avoid paying for care costs although there is no set minimum time specified.
Helen decided to discuss it with her daughter and agreed she would seek legal advice if she decided to transfer ownership or sell the house.
All this advice and more was available to Helen for free by calling 0344 848 7969. Citizens Advice Waverley is a registered charity. You can help local people get the support they need by making a donation to Citizens Advice Waverley at https://waverleycab.org.uk/
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