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Protecting your wealth against care costs

24-04-2013

Preparing for the possibility that you or your partner may need long term care isn’t something most people want to think about but it can be costly.

Current law states that anyone with capital assets of more than £23,250, including the value of their property – if it is not disregarded – has to pay for all of their care whether it’s at home or in a nursing home.

If a person’s assets are valued under the threshold then they have to contribute a certain amount towards their care costs until their funds reach below £14,250 after which the local authority will carry out a financial assessment to determine how much that person has to contribute from their income.

The Government has proposed changes to the cap so anyone that spends over £72,000 on nursing fees will be entitled to state support. But this cap does not account for actual living expenses such as bed and board. The threshold for state support will also increase to  anyone with assets under £123,000. But this doesn’t come into force until 2016, is dependent on whether the current Government remains in power and the value of a property could still be taken into consideration.

Therefore, even with new legislation in 2016, the likelihood is that anyone that owns a home will still need to cover all or some of the cost of their care.  This is leading to cases of people selling their homes or family members using their life savings to cover the cost of adequate care.

However, there are ways to organise and protect your property and cash assets for this eventuality.   We have a team that specialises in wealth protection and we recently became one of the first solicitors to offer a  dedicated ‘Long Term Care’ legal service.

Using our Long Term Care legal services clients can protect some of their assets against care costs through Trusts.

We also work with clients to prepare a Will to safeguard the family wealth against inheritance tax and care fee liability.

Whether clients need long or temporary care, they can get advice on their care fee liability to ensure all available funding options have been explored. For example, the NHS Continuing Health Care funding for people that need care for physical and mental health conditions caused by disability, illness or accident.

Preparing  Lasting Powers of Attorney is also an important consideration for the future. This enables you to choose up to four people to act as attorneys who will manage and make decisions about your property and financial affairs as well as your personal welfare, including healthcare and medical treatment consent, should age or ill health prevent you from doing so.  Should someone no longer have the mental capacity to prepare a Lasting Power of Attorney, an application can be made to the Court of Protection for a Deputy to be appointed to manage your affairs.

The head of our chosen charity, Mary Hansford of Parkinson’s UK, Newbury branch, recently commented on the cost of care and the services we provide, ‘Gardner Leader’s Long Term Care legal service is a real benefit to anyone that knows the affect that long term care can have on a family. Thinking of ways to cover care costs can be a real worry, especially if someone you love is affected by a long term health condition, and can lead to people selling their homes or draining their life savings. It’s great that one of our sponsors offers the advice that I know many of our members will value.’

Preparing for the expense of long term care may not be top of the ‘to do’ list and hopefully may never be a cost you need to cover. But putting in place measures now to help plan and protect your wealth against care fees can be reassuring for the future, leaving you, your spouse and your family to get on with enjoying life.

For further information, please contact the Inheritance Protection team.


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