It is estimated that one in four of us will be living in a care home during the final years of our life, which can cost on average £36,000 per year. These are frightening statistics to thousands of people who now consider selling their homes in order to meet those costs, which can mean a reduced inheritance to pass on to their families.
Over the years, many clients have sought advice in respect of transferring property to children during their lifetime, in the hope that they will not be regarded as owning it when they enter long term care.
Not only does this bring with it personal risks, in the absence of any other reason for the transfer, but a local authority is likely to regard this as a deliberate deprivation of an asset. Deliberate deprivation is when you transfer an asset out of your name to put yourself in a better position for a local authority means test. Transferring your property to a trust can also be regarded as a deliberate deprivation of an asset.
One solution which goes some way in protecting your family home from being used to cover the costs of long term care is by creating an effective will.
Most couples own their home as “joint tenants”, which means that if a spouse dies, the property will pass automatically by survivorship to their partner. The survivor will then be regarded as owning the whole of the property and should he or she need to enter long term care, the whole value of the property could be taken into account in any financial assessment.
By changing the ownership to tenants in common, in the instance a spouse should pass away, they will leave their share in the property under the provision of their will to their chosen beneficiaries. This could perhaps mean transferring the property to their children, or to a trust. The result of this is that if the surviving spouse requires long term care, they can only be assessed as owning half the property. This effectively safeguards a half share in the property for their family.
Professional legal advice should always be sought in respect of the preparation of wills and the transfer of any property to an individual or a trust. Please contact a member of the private client team on 0115 9888 777 or email firstname.lastname@example.org