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Avoiding Care Home Fees in the U.K.

The Aging U.K. Population

There is no avoiding the fact that the population of the UK is getting older, and the changes in society over the last few decades mean that the informal support networks we used to rely on are no longer available for everyone.  It is a fact that many of us (up to one in three, according to the most recent figures) will have to move into a care home at some point, and many of us worry about how that will be paid for.  There are some ways of avoiding care home fees though, as this article explains.

 The Safety Net

Aging LadyFor those who have a serious medical condition that requires ongoing care, the NHS is obliged to fund that care regardless of the assets that the individual holds.  Recently, however, it has come to light that the NHS Primary Care Trusts responsible for assessing patient’s needs may have been using the wrong criteria, effectively making patients pay for care they should have received for free.  There is a fairly long list of conditions which should be covered, so if you or someone you know thinks you may have one of these you should seek professional help as soon as possible.  A specialist claims solicitor will be able to advise on whether the assessment was carried out correctly or not, and therefore whether the care home fees should be met by the NHS or not.

Eligability

If you are not eligible for the NHS to fund care, then it is still possible to avoid care home costs by other means.   Funding for care is means tested, and looks at the amount of assets anyone has.  Anyone who has capital of less than £14,000 is not expected to pay anything, those with capital over about £22,000 are expected to pay the full fees.  After 12 weeks care, the value of your home will also be taken into account, and this is when many of the problems occur as that will instantly take you over the threshold.

Proper planning, through a financial adviser, can make sure you stay below the threshold.  The practice is known as ‘ring fencing’ your assets, therefore avoiding care home fees by ensuring that they cannot be counted towards the capital value calculation.  If the home is occupied by the partner of anyone in care, a relative who is over 60 years old and incapacitated, a child under the age of 16 who the patient has responsibility for, or just if it is owned jointly with someone other than a spouse, then its value can be ignored.  The property, and any other assets, can also be given away to relatives, or placed into a discretionary trust to protect them.  However, there are risks to this as it must not look like the gift or trust was done just to avoid care home fees – if it appears that was the case, then the value may still be counted against the patient.  To avoid this, the gift must be given or the trust set up well in advance of the need for long term care.

 

 

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Image courtesy of StockImages/ FreeDigitalPhotos.net.