Preparing to move into a care home – seek advice early

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Carole Haestier – Private Client Solicitor

Moving into a nursing home, often a taboo subject amongst families and friends, can be a difficult and stressful time. Whilst moving into care can sometimes happen unexpectedly due to a health condition or an accident in the home, a surprising number of people are not prepared for the move or do not take the right advice.

It is not uncommon for care to cost as much as £1,000 a week and many do not have sufficient income available to meet that need. All too often, the family home is sold to fund care fees and the capital is used without previously obtaining appropriate advice from specialist legal and financial professionals. Only when funds are close to running out is advice sought.

Legal and financial advice should be obtained as soon as someone is thinking of, or needs to move into, care. Careful consideration should be given to how the care is going to be funded and also who is going to be appointed legally to help manage an individual’s care and personal welfare needs, if they are not able to do so themselves. We routinely advise that Lasting Powers of Attorney (LPAs) for Financial Decisions and for Health and Care Decisions are created, as well as making sure that the individual’s Will is up to date. If an individual has lost capacity, we can assist a friend or family member to make a Court of Protection application to obtain a deputyship order to be used to manage an individual’s affairs and, if necessary, apply for a statutory Will. LPA registrations and Court of Protection orders take several months to be finalised, so it is often a good idea to review one’s requirements in advance. LPAs or Deputyship Orders are often invaluable during a difficult move into care.

If a spouse remains in the matrimonial home, we recommend that each spouse should obtain independent advice. A spouse may well need to separate his or her own assets from their spouse’s, for example by way of severing a joint tenancy of a property, and may need to review their Will.

We also recommend that attorneys and deputies obtain independent legal advice concerning their duties and responsibilities, including seeking financial advice from a specialist financial adviser, such as a member of the Society of Later Life Advisers, who will be able to review the individual in care’s financial circumstances and advise on how best to produce an income to meet care fees. This often involves a consideration of whether to sell or rent out the family home and whether to purchase a care annuity, which is a specialist product which enables care home residents to receive an income for life to pay their care fees in return for a one-off capital payment.

In all circumstances, we recommend that it is always important to plan ahead. Talking through your options with a legal adviser early on can help protect you, and the ones you love, in the future.

For further advice please contact us.


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