04 July, 2012
There is no way of knowing whether we will need care when we are older but if we do, particularly residential care, there are cost implications that can affect the whole family.
Most people fear that if care becomes necessary, their assets, including the family home, will be depleted. This can sometimes lead to people gifting assets away to their children without due consideration of the consequences, such as bankruptcy, death of a child in your lifetime or possible tax implications.
A further consequence is where the Local Authority may deem that you have made gifts to prevent you from having to pay for care. If this is the case you will be assessed as if you still own the capital value of the gifts. In some situations the Local Authority could look to the beneficiary to pay the care fees.
A common misconception is the belief that if a gift is made, after seven years it will not be taken into account. A Local Authority has no time limit as to how far back it can go in assessing whether you have deliberately deprived yourself of assets.
Get some advice on the options available and what implications future care would have for you. There are many choices, for example, a care annuity, creating a family trust, or effective succession planning via a Will. Getting information now can help you to make an informed decision about your future needs. I would recommend you see both a Solicitor and a Financial Advisor who specialise in elderly clients to advise you on the implications of your actions.
I would recommend on approaching retirement. We often think about who will sort out our affairs when we die but we don't always consider what should happen should we require support in our later years.
As a minimum I would advise making Lasting Powers of Attorney for both Financial and Welfare affairs. If care did become a need in later life and you haven't planned for it your attorneys would be able to step in and manage your affairs. They could put in place an appropriate care package, having the authority (subject to your capacity) to liaise with social services and the Primary Care Trust (PCT), and organise your finances to meet your requirements.
Jane Flaherty is an expert in elderly client matters within the Wills, Probate & Trusts Department at Forbes Solicitors.
For further information and specific advice on how we can help you with your Probate matters please call Jane Flaherty on 01772 220022 or e-mail Jane Flaherty