Something that comes up, a lot! Many of us know of someone in care or needing care and, from our discussions, of course individuals don’t want to see family assets disappear to cover care fees. Conversely though, paying for your own care tends to come with choice.
There are many practitioners who will offer such things as an asset protection trust and most people want to know if these are water tight/would be challenged by a local authority. As a member of the Society of Later Life Advisers their guidance suggests that “it depends” and that would be backed up by the latest guidance from the Local Government and Social Care Ombudsman. There is also no time limit on how far back a council can go in exploring whether the decision to gift/dispose of an asset was intended to avoid care charges.
Local authorities are under financial pressure – fact. Whilst councils have a duty to protect public finances from fraud they have a duty to treat any potential instance of deprivation with “sensitivity and care”. There are 3 factors that they need to consider:
- Whether the user of services “must of known that they needed care and support”. This is case specific. Not all chronic health conditions will end up with the individual needing care and support however certain conditions will cause health to degenerate and it’s likely that these needs will arise.
- Whether the person must have had a “reasonable expectation” that they may need to pay towards care at the time of the deprivation.
- The timing of the deprivation – “at the time of disposal did the person have a reasonable expectation of the need for care and support”
Full details of the recent guidance can be read below. The case studies used are extremely helpful.
Amanda Cowie is an accredited member of the Society of Later Life Advisers “SOLLA”. To discuss any of the points mentioned in this article you can contact her directly via: firstname.lastname@example.org or via the RL Wealth website.