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Query - Possible Future Liability for Care Fees - Carers UK Forum

Query - Possible Future Liability for Care Fees

All about money
I have a query about possible future liability for care fees for my mother.

Almost 11 years ago my father died suddenly he had been a business partner with my mother, they jointly owned the business premises part of which included the family home.

My mother who was then 81 and who had been wanting to retire for years instructed me to sell the premises and stated that she did not want to take ownership of the house which was to be bought with the proceeds as I was obviously going to live much longer than here. This was run past the family accountants who sorted out my father’s affairs and they saw no problem with this arrangement, I recall some forms were signed with regard to the matter.

The property was sold and a house, registered in my name bought. My mother moving in to live with me. My mother, who was in good health at the time the decision was made and frankly possible future care was far from either of our minds.

A few years ago my mother had an unfortunate accident which left her with restricted mobility. When she was discharged from hospital and subsequent rehab care she was initially provided with a home care package by the local authority.

This provision of home care resulted in a Benefits Maximisation Officer from the council making and assessment of her financial affairs. After scrutinising her bank statements and share certificates he came to the conclusion that she was entitled to free home care. During the meeting I recall him asking who owned the house and my mother told him that it was my house and he moved on.

Around 6 months later my mother and I were finding the home care provision a nuisance and the carers were finding little to do on a visit apart from having a chat. Within the house my mother could move around using a zimmer and could function quite well during the day whilst I was out at work. Thus by mutual agreement the care package was ended.

Since then everything has continued to work well. I take my mother away on holiday so I can keep an eye on her and help her, we share the same interests thus it is not difficult nor onerous.

However, a little blip has appeared on the horizon in the last few days which started me thinking and doing some internet research, and whilst examples can be found on the web I can’t find an exemplar which matches my circumstances, they tend to dwell on people who deliberately sign away ownership with the intention of avoiding liability.

My mother started feeling a little unwell and became rather immobile and required a lot of help from me towards the end of last week. Summoning the doctor it appears at this stage it its nothing too serious and is being treated with antibiotics.
Now hopefully everything will sort itself out and my mother will be back to normal once she has taken her medication over the next few days.

However as I had to take some time off work, this led to me considering the “What if?” scenario of my mother requiring residential care should it turn into something more serious.

How would I stand with regard to what is my home?

As far as we are aware there is no documentary evidence now to suggest otherwise but should my mother be assessed again might the local authority dig further and raise an objection to what my mother did almost 11 years ago? Would they be able to find out?

My mother was in good health at the time she made her decision to waive her interest in the property, and had no inkling that she might need care, she was not deliberately trying to deprive herself of an asset.

What I want to know is, should the worse come to the worse (and before any contact was made with the local authority) how would we stand?

Should I let her go through an assessment procedure and hope that there is no problem with our arrangement as there wasn't for the home care package OR should I give up work and become her full time carer to save the property which is my home?

I understand that there is a safeguard on family members living in a home over 60 thus I would not have to do it for too long and am in good health.

I am in my late 50s currently in partial receipt of my employee pension having recently switched to part time work recently to offer some additional support at home to my mother.

Sorry I have rambled on but I just want to know how I stand and hopefully I am worrying about nothing but nevertheless trying to plan for every eventuality.

Some comments would be welcome.

Thank you
I suggest that you contact the Carers UK Adviceline team as they are the experts on all matters related to caring and benefits.
Need expert advice? You can talk to the Carers UK Adviceline five days a week, no matter where you are in the UK or how complex your query is. We do benefits checks and advise on financial and practical matters related to caring.

Freephone: 0808 808 7777
email: advice@carersuk.org

Carers UK’s advice and information team based in London is undergoing staff changes. This means the Adviceline is closed on Thursdays and Fridays whilst we recruit and train new members of staff. We will be taking calls on Monday – Wednesday between 10am and 4pm. . You can email or write to the Adviceline and we will respond to your enquiries within five working days.

The Carers UK Adviceline also includes a listening service, there for you to talk through your caring situation with a trained volunteer who understands what you are going through. Available Mondays and Tuesdays, from 10am to 4pm.

If you can’t get through on the phones (lines are often oversubscribed) then send them an email, they’ll usually get back to you within 3-5 working days.
As far as we are aware there is no documentary evidence now

I think this is the key sentence, because the LA has to PROVE that mum deliberately gave away money (called "deprivation of capital") in order to avoid paying care fees in the future. So if there's no paperwork they are going to find it impossible to prove.

Definitely contact the helpline for the absolutely accurate answer, if you email them there's a reply within a week. I'm their biggest fan, as they made me £50 a week better off, a few years ago, because they knew more about DWP rules than DWP knew themselves.

I would agree with the advice about contacting the Adviceline.

As I understand your situation, there is a gap of 11 years (at least) between the decision to sign away the house and the need for more care. Generally speaking, local authorities pay attention to decisions made within 7 years. You could argue, and if necessary a lawyer, could argue that no-one foresaw what would happen 11 years later!

In my own case, with a similar timespan, I owned with her half my mother's house. The local authorities did attempt to say there was deprivation of assets. However, one letter from a solicitor pointing out the timeframe made them back down. I think the letter cost me £50!

In short, get advice from the Adviceline but don't worry too much. I suspect the time gap is too significant.

Good luck, Anne
Thanks for the feed back on this.

It is six months since I posted this query and fortunately my concerns about my mother's health issues resolved themselves satisfactorily and she has recovered and thus my concerns have retreated and I am now only 18 months away from the all important 60!

However, I have noted the suggestions and if needed will act on them in the future,

Many thanks