The problem of who pays for long term care isn’t going to go away. This can mean care in your own home, or care in rest home or nursing home.

With an ageing population the potential cost of providing care can only increase. The situation is very simple, those who can pay, those who can’t don’t, and there lies the problem. The Actual care you receive can be exactly the same, if you are paying or if you are not. If you have savings, you may be able to afford a higher quality of care. Having money can mean choices, as it always has, which a poor person won’t necessarily have.

You don’t need to be particularly wealthy before you will be expected to pay for your care. If you have assets of £23,000 this is enough. If you give money or assets away, this can be seen as “Deliberate Deprivation” where a person deliberately reduces their assets to avoid paying. In this type of case if assets have been given to family members, they may be expected to pay for the care of an elderly relative. The frustration is all through life, we are encouraged to save.

This problem is particularly bad where a widow or widower owns all the family assets, the house, savings etc. If the person has no savings, the local authority can even put a legal charge on the house, like a mortgage, to recover the cost of care provided. If the elderly person reaches the stage where they no longer can manage at home, and need to go into care, the house is sold and the local authority recovers their loan. The balance of the house sale proceeds must then be used to fund the care home, until the figure of £23,000 is reached. Most readers will be aware of the cost of such care homes. £1,000 per week is not unusual. This can mean a families future inheritance is wiped out.

While most houses are owned “jointly” like a joint bank account, it doesn’t always have to be that way. A couple can own a house “tenants in common” which can offer a greater degree of protection. This means they can each own a share. Typically, these shares will be 50% or half each, although you can have unequal shares. The change in ownership is known as a “Severance of Tenancy”.

Having severed the tenancy, you can leave your share of the house to your family in your Will. Many people choose to say in their Will, they would like their partner to be able to stay in the house, after their death, as long as required. The difference here is that the partner will only own half of the house. This is important, for example if the house is eventually sold to pay for care. Furthermore, a local authority will not generally try to apply a legal charge to a house, if is not fully owned by the occupant.