Private Client
By Conal McGarrity
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Nursing Home Fees & Estate Planning

Many clients are concerned about the possibility of needing care in the future and the potential impact of care fees on their finances and any inheritance they had intended to leave for their families. Many clients seek our advice on how to protect their family home, savings and assets in the event that an individual can no longer care for themselves.

‘Rules’ and legislation surrounding care home fees are complex but here is some information to get you started by Legal Executive at P.A.Duffy & Co Solicitors Enda McGarrity

• ‘Domiciliary care’, being care provided in one’s own home is not currently charged for;

• Residential and Nursing Care is subject to a formal means assessment;

• The current threshold is that if a person has capital over £23,250.00 then they may be liable to pay for their care;

• A limited number of exemptions apply such as the main home would be disregarded if occupied by a spouse or a number of other relatives mentioned in the regulations.

• If a person’s capital falls to £14,250.00 then it will be disregarded and the relevant Health and Social Care Trust should meet any shortfall after the person’s income has been exhausted.

Financial Assessment 

The rules governing the means test procedure are contained in the Charging for Residential Accommodation Guide (‘CRAG’) which is available from the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety. Any resident will be required to give full details of their income and capital as part of the financial means test. It should be noted that there is no power for a Health & Social Care Trust to financially assess a person’s spouse or any other third party when calculating payment of a person’s care.

Anyone who moves into a nursing home (a care home that has a registered nurse) should be assessed to see if they qualify for a ‘nursing care contribution’ from the HSC trust. This is a payment of up to £100 a week that a person who has been assessed as needing nursing care in a care home and is capable of paying for the cost of their own care, may be eligible for.

We would advise anyone facing a possible liability to pay care fees to take independent legal advice before completing any financial means assessment or dealing directly with the Health & Social Care Trust regarding their finances.

What Can You Do To Plan For Your Future and Protect Your Home and Savings?

Speak to a solicitor with experience in this area of law at P.A.Duffy & Co Solicitors. A solicitor will help you to identify the options open to you to enable you to plan ahead. A number of measures can be explored to manage your personal finances and assets effectively as part of wider Estate planning exercise.

It’s vital to note that these measures should not be used as strategies to deliberately deprive yourself of capital so as to avoid care home fees. It is in fact illegal to transfer ownership of your home to deliberately avoid paying care home fees, and if deliberate deprivation of your Estate is proven by the Health & Social Care Trust the costs of your care can be recovered from you or the person who received your gift. The timing and motivation of the disposal of assets are of central importance and this will be considered as part of any financial means test.

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