It is estimated that one in four of us will be living in a care home during our final years. Many couples are concerned that their property will need to be sold in order to meet the costs, resulting in a reduced inheritance for their family.
Many clients have sought advice in respect of transferring property to children during their lifetime. This is in the hope that they will no longer be regarded as owing the property. Not only does this bring with it personal risks, a Local Authority is likely to regard this as a deliberate deprivation of an asset.
Each Local Authority has powers to be able to disregard such transactions. The couple could be treated as still owning the property to meet the cost of their care, even if they do not. Other financial arrangements would then be made by the couple and/or their families.
Transferring your property into a trust does not avoid this problem as it can still be regarded as a deliberate deprivation of assets. Many complicated asset preservation trusts and schemes advertised to address this issue, may not avoid the risks.
Your Will may provide a solution to help protect some of the value of the family home for other members of the family, after the first death.
Most couples own their home as “joint tenants” which means that on the first death the property will pass automatically by survivorship to the survivor. The survivor will then be regarded as owing the whole of the property should he or she need to enter long term care.
By legally altering how the property is owned by a couple and updating the terms of the couple’s wills, the capital value of the share belonging to spouse who dies first, could be protected for other members of the family.
We recognise the costs of care may be just one consideration that you may wish to address in your Will.