Forum

Can I protect my assets from social services re care costs

Hi,

I inherited my mum’s house when she died last year. I now want to make a will and leave the property to my children. I also want to ensure that social services/the government can not demand the house be sold to pay for any future care costs if I end up going into a retirement home. I’m able to look after myself now, I have remitting relapsing MS but I am in receipt of PIP.

I have sought professional advice but because I have MS (diagnosed in 2003) I am being told that even if I put the house/my assets into a protective trust, they are not safe and the government is likely to challenge and force me to pay because I have MS and it is ‘reasonable to anticipate that I will need care at some stage’ and therefore any attempt to protect my assets to avoid paying is unlawful !

Has anyone heard anything like this or do you have any advice or have you successfully protected your property/assets ???

Also does anyone know if MS Society can help with this sort of thing?

Thank you

Oneshot

1 Like

Not sure, but thought I heard that if you have given away your property 7 years before you needed care, you arent liable to pay.

I didnt know having a condition like MS, or in my case HSP, means we are bound to need care at some point,

It will be interesting to see what other replies you get hun

pollx

I have been thinking about the same subject.

The BBC discuss the new care cap that will come into place in 2020.

So people with MS get hit once again, because we can “foresee” we’re going to need some kind of care?

This makes me so mad - I was careful all my life, and amassed sizeable investments - on only a modestly paying job. I got two further “windfalls” - though hardly ones you’d wish to qualify for - for critical illness and a redundancy settlement, respectively.

I am now ill, not working, and eligible for no benefits at all (not poor enough/ill enough) hence already living - at 50 - on the provisions that were meant to provide for a worry-free and even comfortable old age.

My father, similarly, worked hard, did not believe in borrowing (except to buy the house) and invested whatever he didn’t immediately need. He too ran into misfortune relatively late in life, through no fault of his own. He got a terminal disease as a result of occupational exposure to asbestos, and was awarded a huge court settlement in respect of that, which swelled family assets considerably - but again, for a dreadful reason - one we’d rather not have had.

At some point, I stand to inherit a portion of Dad’s fortune, in addition to what I accrued myself as a result of a combination of hard work and compensation for crap that has happened.

Now I find even that isn’t safe, and I will never have my “nice” old age, because I’ll be expected to use even Dad’s legacy to fund my own illness! Good job, in some ways, he isn’t here to see it - he hoped what he’d amassed in his lifetime, including his final fight for compensation for his impending death - would ensure none of us would ever have to worry again.

He’d be horrified to think his sick daughter would have to use it on necessities, including not just food and heating, but care.

I have a horrible feeling the advice you’ve received is right - that if you intentionally divest yourself of assets in contemplation of needing care - whether by a trust vehicle, or simply giving it away in advance to those who would have been your beneficiaries after death, it can be set aside.

It seems grossly unfair that because it’s always foreseeable - effectively from the day of diagnosis - that we may need care at some point - we don’t have the rights of somebody fit and well, but ageing, who decides to place their money out of reach.

A lot of people without MS who are well now will still need care in their later years, but there is nothing to stop them safeguarding their assets, because it cannot be proved they “knew”.

But with us, they are going to say: “Uh-oh, no you’re already ill - you can’t squirrel stuff away like everybody else is doing, because you know.” Some people here will have “known” since 20, or even younger. How can it be fair you can never in your whole life set up a valid trust to protect the home, because you had the misfortune to be diagnosed with MS in your youth?

I do think it’s true. However, I don’t know if it’s worth setting up a trust anyway, on the offchance the council may view it as too cumbersome and expensive to pursue it through the courts. I believe councils have very different policies on this - some will always pursue it - some write it off.

It might be worth talking to Age Concern - even if you are not old. I think they have quite a lot of advice about this, and MSers can’t be the only people in poor health who worry about how they can protect themselves from the expense!

Tina

x

Unfortunately a cap as high as £72,000 will be totally ineffective at safeguarding most people’s private homes.

The original proposal was for £30K - some people entering care might have been able to fund £30K without having to sell the house. But how many will be able to find £72K, not including the house? The house will go anyway.

And again, we will be worst hit. The BBC article claims not many people will actually hit the cap, for the simple reason people don’t tend to live long in care. But as MS is rarely a killer in itself, we know we can need absolutely decades in, or with, care - therefore be liable for the maximum £72K before there’s any relief.

Tina

I don’t think you can protect any assets that you have against the costs of care later regardless of your MS (apart that is for the home you live in or someone else lives in who is a co-owner or a pensioner themselves). Obviously anyone needing help with care has a health and/or age related problem that requires them to need care. All you could do is to sign over the house in question to your children now and hope that you don’t need care in the next 7 years.

The whole idea about the ‘care cap’ that is due to be introduced by the government will (of course) have its limitations, in that it only applies to the costs of care. But if you are in residential care, part (a large part) of what you are charged is for accommodation, food etc. Only a relatively small part of the charge is directly for the costs of care, depending on the type of home you are in. So you would still find that your material assets depreciate as a result.

Obviously, it may be that you don’t need to go into residential care, but need carers to help you remain in your own home. The local council would in that case, assess your care needs, then do a financial assessment. In this scenario, any income you have plus any assets would be balanced against what they determine you ‘need’. If you still own the house you’ve inherited, chances are it would mean you don’t qualify for financial assistance for care until you have reached the care cap (currently estimated to be £72,000).

Sorry to be a prophet of doom

Sue

Its enough to drive people to rationally contemplate suicide. I have been thinking about my own two sons who I imagine will be most unlikely to be able to afford to buy their own home down here (Guildford), and the way private rents are also now climbing, I can see many people living in the most awful cramped garretts and unable to marry or have children. If I end up facing no choice except care, and the house being repossessed and denied to my sons, I think I would seriously consider this option.

So this is basically people being punished for being diseased…I…can’t really get my head around this

Where’s this going to stop? I picture some dystopian future where people with a disease get put to death because they’re too much of a drain on society >.>

The website from the GOV.UK discusses Inheritance Tax, gifts, passing on a home and the 7 year rule.

Inheritance tax to be scrapped on homes up to £1m, 2017 - 2020 to be phased in. Martin Lewis website.

Hi all,

Thank you for all your comments. It seems that the overall view is exactly as I feared - i.e anyone who has been diagnosed with MS is labelled as ‘anticipating to need care at some stage’ and therefore the authorities will challenge any financial planning or trust/will that may have been put in place.

I have been advised that if there are other reasons for setting up a trust fund then it is possible that the authorities will accept that it was not done soley to avoid care costs, also if you set up a trust early long before you need any care this can help.

I did contact Age concern and they have several fact sheets on care assessments and financing care but in a nutshell - any attempt to avoid care costs eg, give assets away (even if more than 7 years have passed) or hide money/property in a trust fund will be viewed as deliberate avoidance and they can challenge and even go after the person who you gifted the property to!

There is no doubt that this whole area is a nightmare and one which is so unfair.

I may well still set up a trust fund as my situation is complicated even further by the fact that my daughter is severely disabled and unless I set up a discretionary trust fund then on my death (if I have any money to leave anyone) the authorities will take her share of inheritance from me to pay for her care !!! Please excuse me while I hit my punch bag !!!

It certainly does not encourage any of us to work hard when we can, save and live within our means does it?!

Thanks again though for you support and comments and I wish you all the best should this become an issue for you.

Oneshot

If you are put into care by the nhs they fund it. Ie, if you collapse and are taken to casualty by ambulance and cared for in hospital, then they decide you cannot go home alone, they will put you in a care home and it is paid for by the nhs.

If YOU voluntarily go into care or your family place you, not the nhs, then YOU pay.

So, at the point you decide to go into care, collapse, somebody dials 999, you are taken away to recover in hospital, they assess you and cannot send you home…it’s paid for!

It sounds implausible but it’s true.

Anne x

Be aware of how care costs can be funded by the state, there are two systems, those provided by social services and those provided by the NHS (called continuing healthcare).

The social services care is provided out of you council’s budget and is means tested and they will take your assets to fund it, this service is meant to provide “social” care needs (in spirit this means getting dressed, washed etc.), the NHS system is meant to take over from the social services when your needs become “healthcare” needs (in spirit this means failure to provide the care will cause health issues). The NHS system is not means tested and the NHS assumes all care costs - since the care is now for health related reasons the NHS is legally responsible for it, one of the core responsibilities of the NHS is to provided free healthcare to everyone (although this isn’t 100% true in practice).

If you are worried about you assets then what I can suggest is that you rely on family to help you until your care needs become “healthcare” in nature (this will be when the disease reaches an advanced stage), you can then apply for continuing healthcare and receive care without having to fund it yourself. There is then no need to structure your assets in any potentially legally grey way.

Yes, I’m talking about continuing healthcare.

This information is really interesting Anne and reddevilade. I had no idea that care costs were treated differently by the NHS and LA. It makes such a difference when thinking about the future.

I’ve just found this: http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/social-care-and-support-guide/pages/nhs-continuing-care.aspx#can

Which has the details of how continuing healthcare is assessed initially by the NHS. It’s actually much more informative than anything produced by my local county council!!

Sue

Just as a thought (in case someone can see a flaw) sell your children the house.
They pay you back at a nominal rate (say £250 per month) free of interest; and do this on the basis that they do not acquire ownership until the house is paid for.

It could be argued that this is creating a contract to sell/purchase an asset, and is therefore not a gift.
If they are also named as your executors, then it is for them to collect the balance of any money owing from themselves.
If the sale price is no more that the value at the time it was transferred to you, then your estate should not be liable for Capital Gains Tax. They may not wish to live in it, or it may need substantial updating, so it may end up being sold and the money divided.

If you have enough in savings, it could be worth looking at Lasting Powers of Attorney covering both financial affairs and social affairs - just in case you can no longer act for yourself.

And a final thought …
Take a regular sum from the bank each month, and place the cash in an envelope in a secure place. Make sure the children know where it is. I am informed that very few accounts are scrutinised in any detail, but a regular pattern of withdrawal will stand up to any scrutiny. That way, no official hand will get its grubby little fingers on that amount of cash.

Geoff

Hi,

There’s an article in today’s Sunday Times Money section on Continuing Health Care (CHC) paid by the NHS when a persons need for care is due to medical reasons rather than social (ie. old age).

The article is focused on war veterans, but CHC actually seems equally or more, relevant to the disabled / long term sick.

It seems that to get funding for CHC, the assessment process is long, complex and drawn out. The biggest problem with it though seems to be that even when the medical professionals decide that care costs and home fees should be paid for, the Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) can still refuse to pay.

This is yet another example of the crazy NHS postcode lottery. Just to add to the lotteries for drug therapies (eg Sativex and DMDs), physiotherapy, FES, etc, etc, etc.

There is of course the right of appeal, but again, this can take an age. In the article, it seems that many of the example cases (which were all elderly war veterans) had died before the appeal was heard.

So, it seems that, if a disabled person has a medical need of care and / or need of a care home, they can apply for CHC funding rather than relying on social care funding (which is means tested). But, they should be prepared for a potential fight to get any positive result. Unless they live in the right area of course (sadly we have no idea which CCGs are more likely to approve funding)!

Sue

"There is of course the right of appeal, but again, this can take an age. In the article, it seems that many of the example cases (which were all elderly war veterans) had died before the appeal was heard. "

I suppose that’s exactly why the process is so long and drawn out…

Yeh, there`ll be a very secret reason as to why the process takes so long.

I told my hubby yesterday about CHC…it may be summat I`ll need one day. Another worry for me and lots of folk like me.

pollx

Hey anon, that sounds great to me…but then there will probably be a reason why it wont work for the powers that be. Couldnt be that simple, eh?

pollx