Compared to previous generations we’re all living longer, which is great, especially if we remain fit and well. However, there could be a time in our lives when we or our families are no longer able to look after us. In such a scenario, it is important to consider our options for long term care should we require it.

In this first of two articles, we reflect on the key issues that you or possibly a vulnerable member of the family would need to consider regarding longterm care needs and the protection of your family’s wealth, in particular relating to your home.

Retain your Home as ‘Tenants in Common’
Property in joint names passes automatically on death to the surviving joint owner. In such a case, it could taken as part of the financial assessment that is carried out if the surviving joint owner were to go into care. By keeping your home as ‘Tenants in Common’ your interest in the property would not pass to the survivor, but instead would pass under the provisions of your Will.

Making a Will
By making a Will, you can make sure that your interest in the property would be held for your spouse. This will ensure that they’ll be able to continue to live in the house for the rest of their life, but they are not entitled to the capital which is ring fenced for the named beneficiaries. Importantly, if on death the survivor goes into care, the value of the property would not form part of the financial assessment. Learn more about Making A Will.

Attendance Allowance
Attendance Allowance is a non means tested, non taxable benefit for people aged 65 years or over who need help with personal care. It is paid regardless of the level of your income or savings for care required either during the day or night. For those that need care during both the day and night, a higher rate is applicable.

Keep Your Savings Apart
Married couples or civil partners are advised to keep their savings in their individual names rather than in joint names. The reason for this is that local authorities cannot include the savings of your spouse or civil partner when assessing whether a person is entitled to help with the cost of care. As a general rule, in order to avoid any problems arising, it is best to keep your savings in separate accounts.

Request an assessment of your care needs
The longterm care assessment is the first step in getting the help and support you might need. This must be carried out by your local council before they can provide or arrange any services for you. Even if it is your aim to arrange and pay privately for your care, it is still sensible to have a proper assessment. By doing so, it will help you understand and decide what sort of care and support you need and what is available. To request an assessment you should contact your local Social Services Department. If for any reason you can’t do this yourself, then with your permission your GP, friend, relative or other professional can do this on your behalf.

Request Annual Reviews
At least once a year, your Care Manager should arrange a review of your needs and the services you are getting. The review is similar to the initial assessment that you had originally, but this time will take into account whether your needs have changed and whether you are still eligible for the services being provided. In the meantime, If your situation changes you should request an earlier review. Many people who go into care will be eligible for a government contribution to cover the nursing element of care. Over a period of time the nursing care needs may increase, so it is essential that you request a review if you think this is the case. It is worth noting that the ‘annual review’ should be regarded as a minimum requirement.

Ellen Fay has many years experience of providing legal advice to private clients regarding their long term care needs. To discuss this article or to seek legal advice regarding you or the longterm care needs of a vulnerable family member then please phone Ellen on 01772 722373 or you can contact her via the website at Solicitors in Preston.