Funding Problems

Share your ideas about the practical side of caring.
I have a problem which seems to be escalating out of control. I have to admit to being a bit of a head in the sand person but know I need to assert myself now. This might be quite long but there is a question at the end of it.
In May I made enquiries about funding for my mum as she was getting near to the point where she would need to go into a care home. I had been caring for her in my home for three and a half years. She has vascular dementia and is profoundly deaf. Her finances were such that after a few months she would no longer be self funding and so I enquired of our local authority what to do next.
Once I had filled all the forms in and returned them it was mid July and mum had been in a care home since the 1st of that month. The previous June (2016) she had finally sold her flat and bought cars for my husband and two of my children and paid for a couple of holidays. The local authority said her funds had diminished too quickly and requested information on all large expenses. I furnished them with all the details and they refused to fund her care because I had purposely deprived her of assets. She will have no assistance until we pay back roughly £25,000 between us. Of course then she will be self funding again and so they won't need to be involved.
Apparently as I have power of attorney I should have minuted all discussions about the cars etc to prove mum was willing to do this. She was and I had no idea this was necessary.
My sister informed me yesterday that the public guardians office had been in touch with her in Australia for information but I have heard nothing so it looks like they are investigating me. Mum also has an assessment next week with a social worker and so I'm sure anything from that will be reported back.
I can say, hand on heart that I haven't deprived my mum of anything and she happily paid knowing what she was doing. She has also done similar things in the past so it is in her nature. I realise that of course this means nothing to the council and so I need to get some outside assistance. My problem is that I have no idea how to go about this. Do I need to find a solicitors who specialise in this? I don't even know what to call it. Would the CAB be able to help?
Mum knows nothing of this, and hopefully won't. I've not been able to visit her since I explained it all to my sister and got a snotty reply back a fortnight ago including the fact that as she used the money for a holiday with mum she was going to appeal her inclusion in the total spent. To be fair a second sum she said she will pay back but not both. We have no way of paying ours back unfortunately. Thankfully my lovely daughter in law has visited once a week and my son has gone instead of me.
Any advice on what I need to look up on Google would be appreciated so I can at least do something.
Tracy, it isn't that YOU have deprived your MUM of the assets she's given you - it's that SHE has deprived the COUNCIL so to speak!

I'm afraid the blunt truth is that the council will, rightly, object to paying out care fees for your mum BECAUSE she gave away £25k to her family!

The rules are pretty clear - people who want the council to pay for the their care CANNOT give away their money! They can only spend it on their own 'keep' so to speak. What your mum could have done was to have paid you 'wages' for looking after her in your home (did she?), and spend money on herself (eg, paying for her food, electricity bills, etc, maybe even some reasonable 'treats' - including possibly holidays for HERSELF, a car that was used FOR HER)....but she CANNOT give away her money to her family, and then expect the council to fork out a hundred pounds a day for her to be in a care home (average cost of residential care!)(the council pay less, often, as they do 'deals' with care homes to reduce the fees for themselves!),

The principle is that tax payers (ie, council tax payers!) shouldn't have to pay for the residential care of people who have enough money to give cars and holidays to their children!

I doubt you have a leg to stand on, alas. Sorry to be blunt about it! The councils are desparate NOT to pay fees, and are coming after folk who gave a way assets years and years ago. Unlike the taxman, there isn't even a seven year rule (which there ought to be).

I can't think that gifts worth £25k will possibly be allowed by them!!!!!
Tracy - you say your mum sold her flat, and out of the proceeds (as I understand it) spent £25k on cars/holidays for her children.

What has happened to the rest of the money from the flat?

Since you are wanting the council to pay her care home fees, that only happens when funds reach £23,500, so is that all that is left (or less?) from the sale of the flat (ie, that it sold for about £50k net profit?). If there is any more the council certainly won't pay any care home fees!

However, if she really did only make about £50k profit from the sale, or whatever else she has in savings etc, and then kept half for herself, and spent half on the cars/holidays etc, then that means she STILL has the £23,500 she is allowed to keep even when the council start paying her fees.

In that case, since you say you can't pay back to her the £25,000 she gave away to you (cars and holidays), then the sensible thing to do would be to spend the £23,500 she is allowed to keep, on paying her care home fees!

It may not work out quite evenly, (£2,500 short!) and, too, I don't think the council pay ALL the fees until the person is down to £16,000, but it's a pretty good whack of it.

In effect, when someone in a care home paid by the council, that remaining 'sub-threshold' £23,500 is the maximum that the family can inherit, so, in a way, you and your sister have just had your inheritance 'early' by way of the cars and holidays.
And there's me worrying after giving up my job about paying myself £8.00 for cleaning up a pile of poop- enough said.
How stressful for you, Tracy, although I can see what this looks like from the council's viewpoint. If I recall correctly from my days of Power of Attorney, there are strict rules on what can or can't be gifted. You really need specialist legal advice and the first half hour will be free. ... n-gifting/

I would go to a local solicitor (did you do the PoA through a solicitor) who specialises in elderly affairs and find out how you stand legally.

Good luck, Anne
Sorry to hear you have this worry. I agree with Anne. I have court of Protection for my husband. If I'm uncertain I telephone. So definitely seek a solicitors advice. Did you have any paperwork when you sorted out the power of attorney? Also, can you back to bank statements prior to you having power of attorney, for prove that your mum gifted large amounts? I think it may help?
Good luck at a difficult time.
I'm afraid that I agree with Jenny. If your mother has dementia and you've already been caring for her for several years, then it could not be discounted that she may have needed residential care at some time in the future. With that in mind, I'm not surprised that the LA are investigating possible "deprivation of assets".

Like Jenny's MiL, my mother has been in self-funded residential care for over four years and in a couple of years her savings will run dry and we shall be selling her bungalow. Although it's highly unlikely that she'll reach the stage of needing LA funding (she's in her early 90s), we keep very detailed accounts of all her outgoings down to the last packet of crisps (literally!) so that we can prove - as and when the time may come - that there has been no "deprivation of assets".

Additionally, my mother, as a self-funder, is probably paying a 40% premium on her care fees to subsidise those funded by the LA.
I told you I had no idea what I'm doing, or saying. In fact I have no idea period. I know she will have to pay, and if I could pay the money back she would still have to pay, I also know that any additional care she needs in the future will be our responsibility because I messed up.
I see little point in going to a solicitor because by this time next year she will be back with us so that she isn't left penniless.
Tracy - there seem to be TWO separate issues here.

(1) Who pays for your mum in a care home, herself or the council.

If she has savings or assets worth more than £23,500 then she pays ALL the fees herself. Once she is down to £23,500 the council start paying SOME of the fees, and when she reaches £16,000 they pay ALL of them. That is what I have learnt on this forum.

Councils don't let old people give away their money or property so that 'bingo' suddenly they are below that £23,500 threshold, otherwise everyone would do it! Giving their money away is 'deprivation of assets', and the council will, as they are saying to you now, demand you give the money your mum gave you, back to her, so she can pay her care home fees herself. (It's not relevant whether you have PoA - it's just about how much money your mum possesses, whoever manages her finances for her.)

As you have said, somehow, you will have to either pay her care home fees directly out of your OWN income, or, maybe, sell the cars she gave you and raise some money that way, or, as I suggested, spend the last of her money (ie, the £16,000 - £23,500 she is allowed to keep) until you've compensated for that £25,000 she gave you (which she should not have, if you want the council to pay her care home fees!)

(2) Should you, as PoA have used your mother's money to buy the cars and holidays?

This is a separate issue, and is about whether you, as PoA, have 'defrauded' your mum. You are saying that she WILLINGLY gave you these very expensive gifts, and indeed, she may well have done so. However, you will have to show, eg, to the Office of Public Guardian (who acts in the interest of someone who has given PoA to someone else), that she was of sound mind to give you these gifts, and you haven't, in effect 'stolen' the money from her. As PoA you have both rights over her money - as in, you can spend it ON HER BEHALF - but you also have responsibilities (you can't spend it on YOURSELF).

BUT, it could be that your mum, even though she has given PoA to you (ie, she no longer controls her own money), can still give permission to you to spend money on yourself (ie, buy the cars with her money, and put them into YOUR names).

If another member of your family, or the police, or another official body that has a role to protect your mum from the risk of you 'stealing' her money (as it would be, if she did NOT give permission for you to buy the cars), suspects that your mum either was not of sound mind to make a decision about whether to buy you the cars, or that you in some way 'bamboozled' her, they will take a very dim view of it, and MAY end up prosecuting you for fraud!

THAT is why it would be sensible to consult a lawyer, IF there is any suspicion your mum did not give clear and unambiguous and 'informed' permission for you to use her money to buy the cars!

As for your mum's care home fees, are you going to be paying them yourselves (ie, anyone who had the cars/holidays!) or are you going to take her out of the care home and bring her back to 'free' care with you? (You CAN spend her money to pay for her 'keep', eg, what you do for her by way of looking after her, and her food, share of electricity etc etc)
PS - it could be that the council, on finding out that your mum gave members of her family £25,000 worth of cars and holidays, are now either suspecting you of fraud, or simply have a legal duty to report you for further investigation. This is quite separate from who pays the care home fees!

Hoping you can get it all sorted out, and that you can demonstrate that yes, your mum DID want to gift you such expensive presents AND that she was of sound mind to make such decisions!