Look at all your options when the time comes to consider residential care - Gillian Wilson

Today marks the start of Dementia Awareness Week and it seems fitting to spotlight those taking the decision to move out of their home into residential or nursing care. It can be confusing and overwhelming for those involved, particularly where there is a diagnosis of dementia. While it is wise to seek guidance related to your specific circumstances, in our experience many people are particularly concerned about what will happen to their home.

Gillian Wilson is a Senior Solicitor, Gillespie Macandrew

Caroline Miller of Alzheimer Scotland, one of our charity partners, says: "This Dementia Awareness week we are talking about the hidden impact of dementia. The pandemic has further highlighted inequalities around paying for care and as part of our partnership Gillespie Macandrew has been helping our helpline volunteers with advice on this from a legal perspective.”

Paying for residential care

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Where you have capital of more than £28,750 you will be required to pay for your care in Scotland. Where you have capital below £18,000, the local authority will pay for all of your care. Where you have capital between £18,000 and £28,750, payment will be divided between you and the local authority.

Irrespective of your capital, the Scottish Government makes a contribution of £193.50 per week for personal care, with an additional £87.10 per week should you require nursing care.

Capital includes all savings and investments but will not include the value of any life assurance which you hold. It will also include the value of any property you own over and above your home and other assets which have a capital value. Whether the value of your home is included in calculating your capital will depend upon whether it is to be disregarded.

Will my home be disregarded?

The value of your home will be disregarded in calculating your capital for the first 12 weeks following your move to residential care. It will also be disregarded where:

you are part of a couple and your spouse, partner or civil partner continues to live in your home; estranged spouse, partner or civil partner continues to live in the house and is a lone parent; or the house is occupied by a family member who is over 60, incapacitated or is a child under 16 whom you are obliged to maintain.

In addition to these compulsory reasons, the local authority has discretion to disregard your home. This can be helpful for example if an adult child has moved into your home to care for you.

Will the local authority force my family to sell my home?

Where you are required to contribute to your care, the local authority is concerned that your contribution is paid. Where you have sufficient income and savings to pay for your care, the local authority will not force your family to sell your home. However, where you do not have sufficient income and savings to pay for your care, then you may have to think about selling your home.

Are there alternatives to selling my home?

The local authority does not have power to force you or your family to sell. However, where you do not pay for your care, the local authority has power to place a debt upon your house to meet your care fees, known as a “Charging Order”.

A Charging Order attaches to your house which means that the house cannot be sold without repayment of the amount due under the Charging Order to the local authority. In this arrangement the local authority will pay for your care however, they will add the amount they have paid for your care to the Charging Order.

An alternative, less widely-used arrangement is a “Deferred Payment Agreement” in which you or your attorney agrees with the local authority that the local authority will pay for your care and the debt will be repaid following your death.

Can I protect my home?

We understand that care cost planning is a concern for many. With thorough preparation, you can safeguard your assets for your ultimate beneficiaries, e.g. your children. If you are considering moving any assets or altering your estate to support the cost of your care, please seek professional advice before doing so.

Gillian Wilson is a Senior Solicitor, Gillespie Macandrew

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