How to avoid losing your home to pay for long term care
Added: (Tue Aug 01 2006)
Pressbox (Press Release) -
According to the BBC’s Panorama programme – most recently ‘The National Homes Swindle’, broadcast on Sunday 23rd July - the frail and elderly in this country are being forced to sell their homes in order to fund their long term care needs. Indeed, official government statistics show that some 69,000 homes are sold every year to fund such care – which is equivalent to one home being sold every four minutes.
“However, if people take action while they can, there is a perfectly legal will that can be written which can protect their home from long term care (LTC) costs,” explained Marcos Kallou, head of Heritage Will Writers, the Epping-based specialists.
“This is an increasingly important issue which is affecting growing numbers of people, as the UK’s population ages,” commented Kallou. “After covering this story in May this year, the Panorama programme makers were deluged by emails and messages so that, for the first time ever, they ran a follow-up programme within a few short months.”
The Panorama programme revealed that, in many cases, the sale of these properties is illegal.
Some years ago, a test case – the Coughlan case – changed the law so that the NHS became responsible for paying the nursing care element of LTC and the individual is only responsible for the social cost element.
“Clearly then, where someone has serious health issues and needs constant medical attention in care then, by law, the NHS should foot virtually all the bill,” said Kallou. “Yet this does not happen.”
After a challenge in the High Court recently - where the NHS lost - the Government sent out new guidelines which were meant to rectify the situation.
“These guidelines are being ignored and the same old ways are continuing,” said Kallou. “So, even after ‘assessment’ the NHS deems that virtually everybody - regardless of their health - needs to pay in full where they have the means.
“Invariably, this means selling their home.”
Kallou’s company offers a way of avoiding this.
“Essentially,” said Kallou, “the ownership of the home is split from ‘Joint Tenants’ to ‘Tenants in Common’. This means that each person has his/her own 50 per cent ownership of the house outright.
“On the first death, that person’s half does not pass to the surviving spouse but to the children - or whoever - via a Trust.
“If the second person then goes into care, they only own half a house for the purposes of the means test - and so the means test is adjusted accordingly, thereby guaranteeing to protect the half of the home that is in Trust.
“Moreover, when the means test is conducted, the Local Authority must consider the open market value for that half house and not the ‘bricks and mortar’ value,” Kallou pointed out. “The guidelines state that half a house has no value on the open market and therefore, the Local Authority should ignore the value of the home completely - since one half is in Trust and does not belong to the person needing care, and the other half is deemed to have no value.”
Kallou – and his growing list of clients – believe that putting together this type of Will, called either a Protective Property Trust Will or a Life Interest Will, can protect people’s homes from the demands of meeting LTC costs.
“However, both partners need to be alive for this approach to work,” Kallou added.
Notes for editors
Marcos Kallou is available for interview – to explain Protective Property Trust Wills/ Life Interest Wills further. To arrange an interview, contact Bob Little Press & PR on 01727 860405 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
About Heritage Will Writers
Heritage Will Writers is a locally based company, which brings the personal touch to writing wills. Heritage Will Writers provides advice on Wills, Inheritance Tax, Children's Trusts, Power of Attorney, Death Duty, Last Treatment, Long-term Care, Enduring Power of Attorney, Care Costs, Remarriage and much more.
Heritage Will Writers’ staff are highly qualified professionals with a proven track record in providing the highest standards of financial guidance and advice. We are particularly adept at providing clear, jargon-free information so that our customers understand the issues at stake and feel empowered to make the right decisions for themselves.
All Heritage Will Writers’ work is fully regulated by the relevant professional bodies and covered by professional indemnity insurance.
Further information from:
Marcos Kallou, Heritage Will Writers, 01992 579101 / 07901 542838,
Bob Little, Bob Little Press & PR, 01727 860405, www.boblittlepr.com