Care Home Fees: Understanding Deliberate Deprivation
Making the decision to move either yourself or a loved one into residential care is never easy. It’s important to take into account the various processes and assessments that precede such a step, including the question of care home fees. Although NHS care is free, social care needs to be paid for, so you need to understand what level of financial support, if any, you or your loved one can expect to receive. According to the most recent figures, care home fees in the UK are, on average, over £30,000 per year, although this figure rises significantly if nursing care is required.
What Financial Help Is Available?
Local authorities can offer financial assistance, but that help is subject to means-testing. Your local authority will carry out a full financial assessment, and if your assets, including your home, investments and savings, are worth more than £23,250 in total, then you won’t qualify for help with the fees. If you have assets of between £14,250 and £23,250, then you will be expected to pay a contribution towards your care.
Although there is talk in the government of introducing a cap on care home fees, the intended proposal of £72,000 per year, which was due to come into force in April 2016, has now been postponed until April 2020.
When you die, your estate will be liable for any outstanding costs, which can severely impact your family’s inheritance prospects. Many people facing the prospect of moving into residential care homes are looking for ways of preserving their estate so that their families can benefit when they are gone. However, trying to avoid the expensive fees of private care homes can backfire if your local authority believes that you are guilty of deliberate deprivation.
What Is ‘Deliberate Deprivation’?
Deliberate deprivation is the term used for dispersing parts of your estate in an attempt to avoid paying for your care. Local authorities assessing your financial situation will look into the history of your assets, and if they believe that you have gifted assets in a deliberate attempt to decrease the size of your estate, they can refuse to help with funding your care.
Your local authority will look at any valuable items, such as jewellery, which appear to have been recently purchased and gifted to friends or family. They will also uncover details of any property which has been transferred across to family members or sold for much less than current market value.
If you plan to give away parts of your estate, then it’s important to use the services of a solicitor to ensure that you stay within the law. It could literally save you a fortune.