The cost of care is undeniably high. Whether you’re paying for a care home or home visits from carers, care fees can often reach hundreds of thousands of pounds. Many people are worried, and they don’t want to have to sell their home to pay these costs.

So the question is: how can you protect your home against care fees? In this piece, I’ll talk through how to protect the assets you’ve accumulated and worked so hard for.

Deliberate deprivation

Firstly, it’s key that whatever you do is legal. Some actions may sound like good solutions, but they don’t actually comply with the law. Transferring ownership of your property to someone else, specifically with the intent of avoiding care fees, is one such example. It’s a type of deliberate deprivation that can manifest in a number of other ways:

  • Giving away large sums of money
  • Gambling away money
  • Suddenly making many purchases that aren’t in your usual spending pattern, for example lavish holidays

You should note that deliberate deprivation applies to capital, income and assets.


Transferring your property

Another act of deliberate deprivation is purposely giving away your property – which is still classed as notional capital. Assets will be assessed when deciding the funding for, or paying, care fees. And though it’s commonly thought that a seven-year rule applies, there’s actually no time limit when deliberate deprivation is in question.

If you attempt to transfer your property to your children, or they buy your property for you to live in, this falls under “gift with reservation of benefit”, and can still be seen as deliberate deprivation. Likewise, you can’t commit deliberate deprivation with assets – so you can’t give away your cash to reduce the size of your assets.

Crucially, third parties can be chased to recover transferred assets which are deemed to be acts of deliberate deprivation. And if there’s evidence of deliberate deprivation, the local authority can pursue the new owner of the relevant asset to regain the care costs.


Financial assessment for care fees

There are some key things to be aware of when it comes to the assessment. For starters, it’s based on any income from your assets, pensions, employment, benefits and savings. If your assets total above £23,250, you’d need to self-fund your care. But if they’re below this value, your care could be partially – or completely – funded. It depends on the specific circumstances.

What’s more, your property might not be taken into account for the assessment – for instance, if your partner will remain in the property while you’re in care, or vice versa. Also, your family won’t be legally obligated to pay your care fees – this is only if they’ve agreed to.


Plan for the future with Optimal Solicitors

By planning in advance, it’s possible to reduce the amount of care fees you pay. But I must emphasise the importance of receiving good legal advice with whatever action you take.

To find out more about deliberate deprivation and how to ring-fence and protect your property, contact the Optimal Solicitors team. We’re here to support you in every way we can – we even offer a free initial consultation. Speak to us today.