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Care home fees – a daunting prospect

It would be rare these days to meet anyone who does not have a friend, relative or acquaintance who needs care. The demographics of this country have been expounded by the press for some time. As a country we are getting older and it is expensive.

Funding long term care is an issue that more and more will have to face. There are however good sources of sound advice available to help you through the minefield. This brief article deals with financial and legal matters to consider in additional to the task of assessing care needs and finding a suitable care environment. The following are not exclusive but provides ideas of the scope of research and enquiry that should be considered:

Benefits

Yes, even the wealthiest are entitled. The most obvious ‘win’ is to ensure that Attendance Allowance is claimed. Being neither taxable nor means tested and based solely on ability, everyone in care should be a recipient of this universal benefit.

A thorough examination of the possibility of claiming additional benefits should be undertaken.

Funding care costs

In England (limits are different in the rest of the UK), an individual with capital in excess of £23,250 is liable for their full care costs. Whilst the Dilnot Report has made proposals in ‘A Fairer Funding System for Adult Social Care’ it is by no means certain to what extent if any the proposals will see the light of day. Certainly those with capital in excess of the means tested threshold (there are special rules relating to property that continues to be used by a dependent) should consider taking expert financial advice.

Having to find an additional amount (£30,000 p.a. is by no means unusual) will require some reorganisation for all but the most robust of financial situations.

NHS Continuing Care

This is a difficult and complex area with significant regional variation of the number of individuals in receipt. Basically, and this is a simplification, an individual whose needs are to a greater extent nursing rather than social care, is more likely to receive NHS Continuing Care. There is however no diagnosis or prognosis that guarantees an automatic right to NHS Continuing Care; the decision is needs based.

Legal matters

It is recognised that loss of capacity is often behind the need for care. A Lasting Power of Attorney (LPA), previously known as an Enduring Power of Attorney (EPA), would be required to allow decisions to be made on behalf of an individual lacking capacity to make their own decisions. If provision is not in place it may be necessary for a Deputy to be appointed.

The LPA is also available to allow the attorney to make Health and Welfare decisions on behalf of the donor; the EPA did not have this facility and generally covered financial matters.

Needless to say, a valid and current Will should be in place.

Sources of Information

Fortunately there are many good sources of information for those needing to research. Aside from gov.org for details on benefits etc., Age UK (formerly Age Concern) and the Alzheimer’s Society websites are an authoritative and generally very readable source of practical advice and information.

Generally this is an area that few embark upon willingly and which coincides with the emotional background associated with the loss of ability of a loved one as their care needs are organised for the last chapter in life. Clearly a range of professionals will be called upon to ensure the best outcome possible.

Should the financial planning involved be one burden too many it is essential to seek a professional view preferably from a Chartered Financial Planner with particular experience and qualification in the needs of older clients and the funding issues outlined above. The organisation SOLLA, Society for Later Life Advisers can provide details of professional financial advisers that have passed a rigorous assessment to become SOLLA qualifies and can be regarded as a trusted source of advice.

Reeves Financial Planning Limited is a Chartered Independent Financial advice firm; their representative Paul Howson is a Chartered Financial Planner and member of SOLLA. For independent advice and an initial consultation please call 01227 768231.

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