Frequently asked questions
My sister and I have lived together for 20 years and are now in our early 80s. What will happen to our property if one or both of us needs to go into care?
The property will be disregarded from the care funding means test when the first of you goes into care. If the second of you needs care, the value of the property can then be included in the means test.
If the property then needs to be sold to help with the cost of fees, the local authority may help with funding until the property is sold. Should you both need to go into care at the same time, half the property's value will be allocated to each of you for the means test.
Can we put our house in a trust for our children to avoid a forced sale in the event that we need to go into care?
Putting property in trust for future generations is a complex issue not simply because of care costs but because the HMRC is keen to prevent people trying to avoid inheritance tax – so legal advice is essential.
Under the means test, your local authority may ask about your property ownership over some years. If it deems property was placed in trust deliberately to take it out of the means test, it may still be included.
Plus, the means test upper threshold is low (local authority capital limits) so other assets could disqualify you from support in any case.
Our parents own their home jointly and have around £30,000 in savings. My father needs to go into nursing care but my mother wants to remain at home. Can we be forced to sell the property to pay for Dad’s care?
No. So long as your mother continues to live in it, the property won’t be included in the means test for care funding. However half of their joint savings will be. If your parents live in England or Northern Ireland, with £15,000 in assets, your father is above the lower capital limit of £14,250 and will be expected to make a contribution of £3 a week towards the cost of his care.
Live in Scotland or Wales? Find out the lower capital limit in your region.
I have special dietary requirements but the only care home that can meet these charges more than my local authority is willing to pay.
If you argue successfully that the home is the only one available locally that meets your assessed needs, the local authority should meet the full cost, assuming you fall below the means-test lower threshold for your local authority. If the local authority still refuses but you have set your heart on this home, a third-party will have to meet the shortfall.
My parents own their home and have £80,000 in savings. Will they get any financial help with the cost of residential care?
Their assets put them well above the threshold at which help is given with funding. The upper limits for 2020/21 are £23,250 per person (in England and Northern Ireland, £28,500 per person in Scotland or £40,000 in Wales). If they need help with basic daily tasks such as bathing and dressing they can claim for Attendance Allowance. If they are in Scotland they may be eligible for free personal care when they move into residential care. However, if they receive free personal care the Attendance Allowance will stop 28 days after a move into a care home.
We have paid for my mother to be in a nursing home for three years. Her condition has now deteriorated and she requires round-the-clock care. Can we get any more support?
You can ask that your mother is reassessed by the NHS. If she is in need of 24-hour nursing, the NHS should pay for all of this as ‘continuing care’. If this was the situation for some time, then some of your fees may be refunded.
Is a long term care plan guaranteed to cover care costs?
No – you will be told the annual income it is guaranteed to pay out so you can compare this to care home fees. Should fees rise in the future there may be a shortfall. However, care homes may be open to negotiation, knowing they are assured of the regular income. Care plans may offer inflation-proofing or cap annual increases to help meet rising fees. Learn more about care plans.
We have sold my father’s house to help with his nursing home costs. Are the proceeds still liable to inheritance tax?
If the capital is simply held in his bank account then it can be included in his estate for inheritance tax purposes on death. If the capital is used to purchase a long term care plan, then it may be ‘lifted’ out of his estate. If inheritance tax is a major concern for the family, speak to an accountant who specialises in estate planning.
My mother is quite wealthy. Is her local authority under any obligation help her find the right kind of care?
Yes – the local authority has a duty to assess her care needs and ensure she has access to suitable care, even if she funds it.
My widowed father needs to go into care now. He doesn’t qualify for means testing but the property slump means it may take months to sell his bungalow to help with costs. What can we do?
The local authority must disregard the property from the cost of care for the first 12 weeks. If the property is still not sold after this time, the authorities will still continue to pay costs but will look to recoup these against the proceeds from the property when it is finally sold. Make sure your father claims Attendance Allowance to help with the cost of care.
Find an adviser
Use our directory of specialist care fees advisers to find expert advice in your area.