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  1. Blog
  2. How to avoid selling your house to pay for care
Property news
20 December 2021

How to avoid selling your house to pay for care

GetAgent Team

If you're moving into a care home or have other care requirements, you might be wondering whether you'll need to sell your house to pay for your care. Of course, selling isn't the only option, and many may want to avoid it, but this article will discuss what you need to know when paying for care.

How much are residential care costs?

The average weekly cost of residential care in the UK is £704, and nursing care costs roughly £888 a week. Care fees annually equate to around £30-40,000 per year, so how would you pay for this (rather expensive) total?

Do I have to sell my home to pay for residential care?

No - you don't have to sell your home. You could use savings and private pensions to pay care fees, but if those are not an option, you may have to sell your home — as long as you have no other dependants still living there.

Can you avoid selling your house to pay for care?

Yes you can, if you have a dependant person that will continue living in the home after you move into a care facility, then you can access support in order to pay for the care. You can't be forced to sell the home in order to pay for care as the dependant individual will have a right to stay there indefinitely, as long as they are one of the following qualifying people:

  • Your spouse or partner (you do not need to be married)
  • A relative over 60 (or incapacitated)
  • A relative under 16 that you are legally responsible for

5 Other ways to avoid selling your home to pay for care

Other payment sources might help you to pay for care, depending on your circumstances. However, bear in mind that if you receive means-tested benefits, then selling your home or entering into any of the following arrangements could affect your eligibility to receive the benefits.

Deferred payment agreements

If you are unable or don't want to sell your property while you are still alive, you could ask your local council about a deferred payment agreement. This agreement is where the council pays care home fees and reclaims the money from the eventual property sale (either before or after your death).

Deferred payment agreements will be an option if:

  • Your needs have been assessed and healthcare workers have concluded that you need to be in a care home.
  • You have savings/personal assets under £23,250 (not including the house value).
  • You are not currently in a 12-week disregard period (which we will look at in more detail later).

Bridging loans

Councils may offer short term deferred payment agreements to act as bridging loans. They will loan you money in monthly instalments to allow you to pay for care and then collect repayment upon the eventual sale of the house.

Payment plans

Immediate Needs Annuity or deferred care fee payment plans act like insurance policies, where you pay a lump sum investment for a regular contribution to care costs.

Equity release

You could also consider equity release, which is a way to access cash from the value of your home without having to sell it. There are disadvantages to this, so you should seek independent financial advice.

Renting out your home

You might decide to rent out your home and use the income to pay your care home fees. However, rental income is taxable, so you'll also have to manage tax and other responsibilities as a landlord.

What are the thresholds for receiving financial help with care costs?

Local authorities will assess your financial situation to see if you qualify for help with your care costs. This is called a means test.

If you live alone, then your total assets will include the value of your home in your assessment. However, if you have dependents who will remain in the house, then your home won’t be included as an asset.

If your assets (savings, other income etc.) are below the lower thresholds in the table below, based on where you live, then you will be entitled to maximum care fees (these are not unlimited but will provide adequate standards of care). Those with assets above the top end of the thresholds will not receive any support. Any people who fall in between will receive financial assistance accordingly. The thresholds for receiving financial help with care costs are as follows:

CountryLower ThresholdUpper Threshold
England£14,250£23,250
Scotland£18,000£28,500
Northern Ireland£14,250£23,250
Wales£24,000 (for care at home)£50,000 (for care in a care home)

The government has announced that they plan to make social care changes, but as of November 2021, this information is up to date.

What is the 12-week property disregard?

What if you choose to sell your home to be able to move into a care facility permanently, and you're not paying for your own care? In that case, the council must not include your home's value in your financial assessment for the first 12 weeks after you move to give you time to sell your property or arrange other options as mentioned above, this is known as the 12-week property disregard.

You can still get financial support from the council in this time period, and when the 12 weeks are up, the council will review your finances. The local authorities will then include the value of your home in the financial assessment, so you'll need to plan for when this disregard period ends.

Can I gift my assets or transfer ownership to avoid care fees?

You cannot and should not gift assets or transfer ownership in order to avoid care fees. Any gifting of savings or transfers of ownership shortly before you go into care will be seen as a ‘deliberate deprivation of assets’, and the local authorities will still include the cash values in your means test. Unless the gift or transfer was made several years previous or over a long period of time, then it will not be a useful strategy to reduce your assets.

How do you sell a house if the owner has dementia?

To make legal and financial decisions on behalf of someone who has dementia, you will need to:

  1. Seek a Lasting Power of Attorney
  2. Have this registered, in order to sell the house without the owner's involvement.

Summary

If you do decide to sell or need support with your options, Get Agent can find the right estate agent. By comparing data from thousands of sales in your area, we can match you with the agents that best fit your needs. Once you've looked at the prices, their performance information and chosen the right individual for you, you'll be able to monitor the progress of your sale using our online tools. You'll have complete visibility of your transaction at the click of a button.

Join the 200,000 people we've helped already and find out more about how GetAgent can support you in your property journey here.

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