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Do you have to sell your house to pay for care?

Do you have to sell your house to pay for care?

As we get older, there comes a time when we need a little extra help with things. This could be medical or personal, but there are a variety of options available, including:

  • Homecare – where a carer visits your home at a set time each day,
  • Overnight care – where a qualified carer sleeps at your home throughout the night in case you require help,
  • Live-in care – where a qualified and experienced carer moves into your home to provide 24-hour care,
  • Nursing home – where you move out of your home and into a care facility with other people to have access to care 24-hours a day.

If you opt to move into a nursing home, you may have to sell your house to cover the costs. We’ll take a closer look at this in this post.


Help with care home fees

It’s improbable that you won’t have to pay any care fees associated with moving into a nursing home. However, you may be entitled to financial assistance from your local council.

When you request help from your council, you’ll have to go through a ‘means test’ to identify whether you’re eligible for funding. Other benefits you may qualify for include Personal Independence Payment and Attendance Allowance.

You won’t qualify for financial assistance from your council if you have over £23,250 in savings and assets (this calculation includes your home). Sadly, this means that you may have to sell your house to cover your nursing home fees.

Another option that allows you to keep your home during your lifetime was introduced in 2015. The deferred-payment agreement allows your local council to take on your nursing care costs up-front. However, they will take ownership of your home on your death to repay the expenses they covered.


Can the government take your house to cover care costs?

If you’ve had to take on a deferred-payment agreement to help pay for your care, you won’t have to sell your home until after your death. At that point, your local council will take ownership of your property to reclaim the costs they paid out for your care.


How can I avoid selling my house to pay for care?

It’s important to know that if you need to move into a nursing home temporarily and know that you will definitely move back into your home, the council will not include your home as an asset when calculating your eligibility for financial assistance. 

The same is true if you move into a nursing home permanently, but your spouse continues living in your home. Other people living in your house will keep it from being considered as payment for care costs. These include:

  • Anyone over 60 or deemed to be incapacitated,
  • An ex-partner and a lone parent,
  • Someone under 16 and a close relative that you’re legally required to support.

You could also transfer your homeownership through a family trust to prevent it from being sold to cover your nursing care costs. However, it’s essential to understand that you cannot legally gift your home to somebody to avoid paying your care costs. 

While gifting your home is different to setting up a trust, you should seek legal advice to avoid being liable for any crime.

Another option is to release equity on your home to cover the costs of moving into a nursing home. Please be aware that if you choose this route, you will have to pay additional interest on any money you claim.

If you and your spouse need to move into a nursing home permanently, you could choose to rent your home and use that income to pay the associated care fees. In this instance, you get to keep your home for as long as you like.

Finally, if you opt for care in your home, including any of the other options mentioned at the top of this post, your home will not be included in the means test for financial assistance or sold to cover your care costs.

If any of these are the case for your situation, you won’t have to sell your home to pay for care.


Financial help for homecare

We mentioned above that you’d have to go through a means test to confirm whether you qualify for financial assistance for going into a nursing home. If you want to continue living in your home (so you don’t have to sell it to pay for your care), you can request a needs assessment from your local council.

This will outline your at-home care needs and, if they find that you require a paid carer to visit your home, they may contribute to the costs of this. To claim financial assistance with this, you’d also have to go through a financial assessment where the council will look at your:

  • Pension
  • Earnings
  • Benefits
  • Property
  • Savings

Remember, though, that if you’re paying for care in your home, you won’t have to sell your property to cover these costs.


Final thoughts

Finding ways to fund your care costs without having to sell your home can be confusing, and we recommend seeking legal advice to help you reach the right decision for you.

If you decide to remain living in your home while gaining access to professional care, we can help.

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