Saving your home from Care Fees

Care fees for the elderlyThere was a case about an elderly man (whom we shall call Fred) who lived alone and independently for about 10 years. In 2010 Fred, then aged 90, suffered a stroke and was hospitalised. He insisted on being discharged to his home and refused an offer of a move to a care home. When he returned home, social services arranged for a carer to visit every day.

About a month after his return to his home Fred transferred his house to his son who was going through a messy divorce. Fred was afraid his son would lose his house in the divorce proceedings and wanted to ensure he would not be homeless. Fred also gave power of attorney to his son to manage his affairs. In 2011, Fred’s health deteriorated and he moved to a nursing home. His son applied to the Local Authority for assistance with care fees. The Council refused saying the house should be sold to pay for Fred’s care. Fred’s son pleaded with the Council saying his dad did not intend to avoid care fees by transferring the property because he had no idea it was forbidden to deprive oneself of an asset for the purpose of avoiding care. The response from the council was that ignorance of the law was no defence.

Fred’s son took the Council to Court and won his case. The Judge said the Council had not applied the rules correctly. They had to look at the facts to establish the purpose of the transfer. They needed to ask, what was Fred’s main intention when he gave the property to his son? Here the significant reason was to protect his son from the consequences of a divorce. As a result of the ruling the house was not assessed as capital available to pay for Fred’s care. Fred died in 2012 and the house for saved for his son and grandchildren.
Michael Stennett, Solicitor, specialises in advice about long term care fees. The firm runs a free advice clinic on the first Wednesday in every month. You can find out more about care fees, including asset protection trusts, visit our website.

Grandma’s generous gift

I was asked to help Maud and her family. Maud lived in rented accommodation and was very close to her granddaughter, Jane. In her will, Maud made Jane the beneficiary of her £100,000 savings.

Maud wanted to help Jane purchase her first home. Jane needed a large deposit to buy her flat. Maud decided to gift £75,000 to Jane. She wanted her granddaughter to benefit from her estate during her lifetime rather than wait until her death.

Within 6 months of making the gift Maud had a fall and went into hospital. It was decided that she needed social care which she could not get if she returned home. A residential care home was located and Maud applied to her local authority for care fees funding. When carrying out the means test the local authority demanded of Jane that she return the £75,000 gift she received from Maud because they claimed the transfer was made to deprive Maud of savings that would have been used to pay for her care. Jane was very distraught by the council’s demand. She had used the money to buy her flat and was worried that she would now have to sell it.

I advised Maud that making a large gift did not necessarily mean it would be taken into account in a means test. The local authority, when assessing a resident’s eligibility for assistance look for the evidence of deprivation of capital intended to avoid a charge for accommodation.
I was able to show that Maud was in good health when she gave the money to Jane. Maud would not have needed residential care but for her unexpected accident. I produced evidence showing that Jane began to search for a home and apply for a mortgage before Maud suffered her accident. The local authority eventually accepted the explanation and Maud’s care is being provided by the council.

Local authorities have had considerable budget cuts recently and because of this are likely to look closely when they consider deprivation of assets may have taken place.

If you would like to find out more about protecting your assets click here an book a Free call back.

The ticking time bomb – What the Government’s plan to deal with long term care really mean

The Government’s recent proposals on paying for long term care was promoted as a “fully funded solution”, and designed to create “certainty” in an uncertain world. However, on close scrutiny can the proposals truly be described as the most radical reform in the social care system in 64 years?

Introduction of a nationwide pay as you die scheme

The Government proposes that from 2015 it will be mandatory for local authorities to offer loans to those needing care to help them pay for it so that fewer people are forced to sell their home. This scheme is not new. So what is radical about it?

Firstly, the proposal is to make it mandatory for all local authorities to offer the scheme, whereas presently some do and many do not. Secondly, the new requirement will allow local authorities to charge interest and possibly levy other costs for the loan. This is not so good news for residents who live in areas where local authorities already operate the deferred payment scheme and not charge interest on the loan.

Cap on care fees

The Government plans to introduce a cap on care fees from 2017. Under the plan no one will have to pay more than £75,000 in care fees over their lifetime. Anyone with assets below £123,000 will receive help towards their costs. This is the good news. The bad news is the assistance applies only to the cost of personal care (washing and dressing). There will be no assistance towards the expense of residential or nursing home accommodation (board and lodging). So the scheme is not “fully funded” as described by the Government in press briefings.

The need for action

Immediate steps must be taken to make sure there will be enough to pay for your care when you need it. You must consider how much you can afford to pass on to your loved ones when you die bearing in mind the need to provide for care. Stennett & Stennett Solicitors have years of experience in care fees funding and asset protection. Go online to www.stennett-stennett.co.uk for your free guide to planning for future care.

Time is running out to claim care home fees

The Department of Health announced in 2012 that anyone wishing to claim NHS nursing care fee funding for the period from 1st November 2011 to 31st March 2012 must do so by the 31st March 2013. The deadline applies to previously unassessed periods of care and to those whose claims for funding has been turned down.
Care home fee funding is determined by the person’s health care needs. If their need is primary health, the NHS will cover the cost of care. If the need is mainly social, the local authority will carry out a means test to decide if and how much care they will fund.

Health care need

A health care need can be defined as treatment relating to the control or prevention of a disease, illness, injury or disability and the care or aftercare of a person with these needs, whether or not the tasks involved have to be carried out by a health professional.

Primary care need

Eligibility for a primary health care need is based on the whether the person has an intense, complex, unpredictable and continuous health care need which will be shown by the quantity and/or quality care given. Key indications for a primary health care need can be argued if the majority part of the care they require is focused on addressing and/or preventing health needs. These health care needs cannot be met by a “layperson”.

Social care need

A social care need can be described as one that is focused on providing assistance with activities of daily living, maintaining independence, social interaction, enabling the individual to play a fuller part in society, protecting them in vulnerable situations, helping them to manage complex relationships and accessing a care home or other supported accommodation.

Act Now!

Don’t miss out on the NHS care fee deadline. Immediate steps must be taken to apply for retrospective continuing care. You or someone you know may be paying for care when they should be eligible for free NHS care because they have a primary health need.

Stennett & Stennett Solicitors have over 20 years experience in care fees funding and asset protection. Contact Michael Stennett on 020 8920 3190 for a free 15 minute consultation.

The Care Fees Cap – Does the discussion really help those who need help with funding their care fees?

In 2011, the economist Andrew Dilnot made proposals about limiting the amount a person is required to contribute towards their care fees. He proposed a “cap” on care costs. There has been a lot of discussion about the size of the cap. Is it £35,000, or should it be as much as £75,000 as recently suggested by the new care minister Norman Lamb?

The debate about the size of the so called “cap” ignores, or dare I say, deliberately avoids more important issues. The first issue to consider is how the cap works. Did you realise the limit proposed in the Dilnot report applies only to “personal social care” which in itself is subject to eligibility and the prevailing local authority rate. The cap will not cover general living expenses (estimated at about £7,000 – £10,000 a year). Nor will it cover the expensive accommodation or “hotel” costs above the rate paid by the local authority. The average local authority payment for accommodation in Southern England is around £500 a week. A person staying in a nursing home in Southern England pays about £800 a week. With the average stay in a home being 5 years, the cost of care can be as much as £200,000.

Looking at care costs in this way brings home the need to plan for care as early as possible. Seek advice from a professional experienced in care fee funding. Stennett & Stennett Solicitors and Independent Financial Advisers have for many years advised families about care fee funding.

Call us now on 020 8920 3190 for a confidential discussion to see what we can do to help you

Family recover £100,000 in care fees after a 2 year long battle

The daughter of an 85 year old widow named Doris had to enlist my help to claim back more than £100,000 spent on care home fees.

Time and again Doris was told she could not get NHS funded continuing care free in spite of the fact she had Alzheimer’s, a heart condition and acute mental health problems. On one occasion she threw a glass vase at another resident in the home!

When Doris went into care all social services wanted was to see her bank account and refused to help when they found out she owned her home.

The daughter applied to the NHS for continuing health care. The NHS must pay the entire cost of care home fees when you have a ‘primary health need.’  However the daughter was upset when the NHS kept refusing to award Doris free NHS funded continuing care.  She came to Stennett & Stennett Solicitors for advice.  A solicitor re-applied to the NHS, and using the evidence from Doris’s care home notes and the GP’s records, proved she had a primary health need. What is more, the firm successfully recovered over £100,000 in care home fees Doris paid when she should have received NHS funded continuing care.

If you think that you or someone you know may be entitled to free NHS funded continuing healthcare and would like advice then call Stennett & Stennett Solicitors
on 020 8920 3190 or for further information click here to download our free guide.

Top tips to lowering the cost of residential and nursing care

Apply for NHS continuing health care

Care home fee funding is determined by your needs.  The NHS will cover the cost of care if your need for care is primarily medical and health.  A successful application to the NHS will save you the cost of paying for your care.  If the need is mainly social, then the local authority will carry out a means test to decide if and how much care they will fund.  In theory, entitlement to NHS continuing healthcare should be reviewed annually but this is often not the case.  It is up to you or someone you know to consider making an application if your health deteriorates.

Get local authority funding

Adult social services have a duty to arrange for your care if you cannot make your own arrangements and there is no one willing or able to do this on your behalf.  This obligation applies even where the value of your assets is above £23,250.  The local authority can arrange accommodation at a lower rate than you would be able to do if you approached the home directly.  Types of capital that you own must be disregarded by the local authority when carrying out a financial assessment.  Do not assume that owning a home will disqualify you from getting local authority funding.  Get the right advice before you complete a local authority financial assessment form.

Use your property to raise income to pay for care

You do not always have to sell your home to pay for care.  Consider letting it to raise income and preserve the capital for the next generation.  See if the local authority operates the deferred payment scheme whereby they will cover the cost of care.  Under the scheme a charge is placed on your home to cover the cost and it is removed when the house is sold.  The loan is interest free.  Equity release can be a means by which funds can be raised to pay for care.  Borrowing money on your home is an important step and it is important to get advice from a qualified financial adviser.

Claim non means tested benefits

If you are resident in a care home that is registered to provide nursing care and do not qualify for NHS continuing healthcare, you may be entitled to receive NHS funding to support the provision of nursing care.  Those over the age of 65 and paying for their care can claim attendance allowance.

Get the right advice

Many people are paying for care when their circumstances are such that they should be getting help either from the local authority or the NHS.  It is important to be proactive and get the right advice.  Not every adviser is an expert in this field and can give the right information to enable you to make an informed choice.  Stennett and Stennett Solicitors, estate agents and independent financial advisers specialise in asset protection and care for the elderly, if you need advice:

Call us on 020 8920 3190 or visit www.stennett-stennett.co.uk

White Paper or White Elephant? Will the Government’s proposals set out in its White Paper on Social Care mean you will pay less care home fees?

At first view the plans announced by the Government on 11th July appear to help thousands of people avoid the huge cost of paying for their nursing care needs. But on close examination the White Paper on social care provides little assistance to the hundreds of thousands in residential and nursing care.

The proposal about local authorities offering loans to those needing care to help them pay for it so that fewer people are forced to sell their home is not new. Interest free deferred payment schemes are presently offered by many councils to people who need care, whereas the Government suggests allowing local authorities to charge interest on the loans.

The other key proposal in the White Paper is the Government supports the principle of capping care costs, an idea promoted by economist Andrew Dilnot in his independent published last year, when a £35,000 limit was suggested. What is disappointing is the White Paper did not say what the cap will be set at, or when it will be introduced. What is more the Health Secretary admitted there was no guarantee there would be enough money to implement the cap.

What is worrying about the White Paper is that it will tempt people to do nothing to prepare for their future care. The Government is unlikely to unveil more detailed funding proposals at least for another two years as part of its next Comprehensive Spending Review.

Doing nothing is not an option. People need to be proactive and plan for the future. Stennett & Stennett Solicitors specialise in asset protection and care for the elderly. You can call us on 020 8920 3190, visit our website at www.stennett-stennett.co.uk.

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Paying for care and assessment of your home

If your capital is above £23,250 you will not get any help for care home costs. If it is below £14,250 you will get all your fees paid. If it is between you will get some help. If you do get help you have to hand over your income less about £23.50 per week.

The biggest asset is usually our home. It is not treated as part of your capital if your spouse, civil partner, or elderly or disabled relative lives there. It may not be treated as your capital where other exceptions apply. Otherwise your home will be treated as part of your capital and prevent you from getting care paid by Adult Social Services.

But you do not have to sell your home. You can let the bill for care mount up interest free and it will be paid out of your estate. So as to keep the bill down you can let your home generate an income to pay for care.

Also, if your care needs are medical the whole cost can be paid by the NHS with no means test. If you or someone you know pays for long term health care, you could be entitled to NHS continuing healthcare to cover the costs. Backdated claims must be made by 30th September 2012 otherwise costs incurred from 2004 cannot be recovered.

Do not miss the 30th September deadline to claim care home fees! Stennett & Stennett Solicitors, specialists in asset protection and care for the elderly, can help. We can prepare an initial report as to whether or not we think you meet the primary healthcare criteria. Call us on 020 8920 3190 or visit our website on www.stennett-stennett.co.uk. to find out more.

Are you paying for care home fees when you could be eligible to reclaim them?

The Department of Health has set a deadline for reclaiming care home fees. Applications must be made by 30th September 2012.

If you or someone you know pays for long term health care, you could be entitled to NHS continuing healthcare to cover the costs. Backdated claims must be made by 30th September 2012 otherwise costs incurred from 2004 cannot be recovered.

Do not miss the 30th September deadline to claim care home fees! The deadline applies to previously unassessed periods of care and to those whose claims for funding has been turned down.

The reason for the deadline is because the responsibility for continuing care will transfer from Primary Care Trusts to Clinical Commissioning Groups and the Department of Health wants to set clear cut off points for historical cases.

Care home fee funding is determined by the individual’s needs. If their need is primary health the NHS will cover the cost of care. If the need is mainly social, then the local authority will carry out a means test to decide if and how much care they will fund.

Michael Stennett, Solicitor specialising in protecting family assets, recently helped a son recover over £80,000 for his elderly mother. She suffered from dementia and in her younger days spent periods in hospital for treatment for schizophrenia. The family were forced to sell their home to pay for care in a home and when the sale proceeds ran out, applied to Social Services for care fee funding. The local authority refused to pay the full cost of care and the son turned to Stennett & Stennett solicitors for help. Michael Stennett helped them make a successful claim to the NHS for free nursing care. The mother had a primary health need and what is more, should have received free care from the start because the NHS had a duty to continue paying for the mother’s “after care” upon discharge from hospital for treatment for mental illness. The NHS refunded the entire cost of care and continues to pay the weekly home charges in full.

Do not miss the NHS care fee deadline! Call Michael Stennett on 020 8920 3190 if you think you may have a claim or need advice about claiming social care fee funding from the local authority.