How to avoid selling the family home to pay for care

We’ve all heard the traumatic stories of people being forced to sell their family homes to pay for astronomical care fees. The subject of elderly care, writing a will and what happens to our estate when we die is never an easy one, but with just a bit of planning, unnecessary fees and a lot of stress can be avoided.

Sam Francis of Assured Wills is an expert in this field and helps families to protect their estates to ensure they can pass as much as possible onto their families.

He says: “Fees for end-of-life care are affecting more ordinary families than ever before. In the past, few gave much thought to having to pay for care fees as they were unlikely to live long enough for this to be a problem. Nowadays, the burden for financing social care has now fallen to the individual who requires it, and the local authority where they live.

“The average cost of a week’s care in a residential home is now nearly £1,000, so it doesn’t take long before you lose significant wealth to pay for nursing care.”

  • If your estate is below £14,520, then the local authority will pay for your care.
  • If you have between £14,250 and £23,250, then you will pay a proportion of the cost of your care on a sliding scale.
  • However, any savings, investments and assets over £23,250 mean that you will pay 100% of your own care should you require it.
  • If you own your home and, by taking residential care, you will be leaving it empty, then the value of the house will be included as an asset that can be sold to pay for the care.

According to Mr Francis there are three important steps to protecting your estate and your home when you die. These are perfectly legal and accepted in estate planning.

The first is to ‘sever the tenancy’. Usually people buy together as a Joint Tenancy meaning they own the property as a couple. This meant that should either of them die, the remaining partner will own the whole property.

If you sever the tenancy means each has a 50% share and if one partner dies, they can pass their share in their will to someone other than the surviving spouse. The process of Severing the Tenancy is straightforward and involves each of them signing a written statement and submitting a form to the Land Registry.

The second step is to make sure that on the first death, the property passes into a protective will trust. This is a trust such as a Property Protection Trust (PPT) which guarantees a right of residence to the survivor so they can continue to live in the property. And on the second death, it will benefit the children and grandchildren. As a side-effect of this trust, it is highly likely that the entire value of the home would not be included in an assessment for care fees.

A great advantage of this type of trust is that should either remarry after their spouse’s death then the home would be protected from forming part of the new marital assets which means that any new husband or wife would not have any legal right to inherit any part of the family home that is in the Trust. Anything tied up in the Trust would also be protected from divorce or bankruptcy.

Mr Francis added: “We have recently worked with a family where the husband died very suddenly and unexpectedly and everything was left to his wife. Unfortunately, she suffered a stroke very soon afterwards and needed residential care.

“The local authority decided that she needed to pay all of her care fees and that the family home should be sold to pay for this. They have worked so hard all of their lives and wanted to pass on their inheritance to their children so they could get onto the housing ladder or pay for university.

“The tragedy is that others in the same care home have constructed their wills differently when both partners were fit and well so that half of the house passed into a protective trust and meant that only savings were used to pay for care. When they had nearly run out of saving, the state stepped in and covered the cost of care. It seems so unfair and a real catalyst to ensure everyone has proper advice on getting their affairs in order.”

For more information and to find out more about how to plan to avoid care fee costs, visit www.samfranciswillsoxford.co.uk

In My Life; a Music Memoir by Alan Johnson

Some say that Alan Johnson is the best Prime Minister we never had. But if he himself has any regrets about his career, it’s that rock stardom hasn’t called. Yet.

His most recent book is about the musical influences that have shaped his life and most of these are related to the Fab Four. Much like his previous three award-winning memoirs, this latest book too, takes its name from a Beatles song.

Johnson writes engagingly about his life in poverty in North Kensington, hearing Lonnie Donegan for the first time, of playing his first guitar and envisaging a life as a rock star, despite the fact that the first record he bought was Fings ain’t what they used to be by Max Bygraves.

In 1963, he hears the Beatles for the first time and you can almost hear the colour that comes into Johnson’s black and white world.

Buying their first album coincides with the tragic death of his mother at the age of 42 – the same age at which her mother and grandmother had also died. Incredibly Johnson’s amazing older sister Linda took on social services at the age of 16 and ensured the siblings were not split up.

At the age of 18, his music career is put on hold as he starts work as a postman, a job that will eventually lead to him to politics. This in turn means he finally meets his favourite Beatle Paul McCartney when as education minister, he was invited to a graduation ceremony at the Liverpool Institute of Performing Arts.

Typically modest and witty, he summed up the experience: “I thought Paul would be in a room somewhere on a throne but instead of that, it was in the canteen. I met him when I was eating a cheese sandwich and was genuinely lost for words.”

 

No more dreary packed lunches; MrsB set to open a new cafe in Faraday Road, Newbury

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Newbury’s latest food offering is about to open in the heart of one of the town’s burgeoning business districts catering for corporate lunches, weddings and events and for anyone who enjoys healthy wholesome food.

Emma Benson, who runs Mrs B’s Kitchen, an established local catering company, will be opening a new café in the former Crescent Signs site on Faraday Road site later in November. Mrs B’s Kitchen Café will be open for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea six days a week. The ethos is to provide an informal space where people can come and meet and enjoy simple good homecooked food.

The café will seat 30 indoors with further covers outside. The menu will change daily and will cater for a range of dietary requirements including vegetarians, vegans and free from.

Emma said: “The catering kitchen and café are in a warehouse, and everything will be visible and open – it will be like welcoming our customers into the heart of the kitchen itself.

“We will be offering everything from home-made sausage rolls and cakes to salad boxes and simple wholesome food that will sustain you without breaking the bank. Pretty much everything will be made from scratch on site and ingredients are sourced locally where possible. Just as important as the food, will be the fantastic coffee from Extract Coffee in Bristol.

“The menus will change daily, so you’ll be able to see what’s on offer on social media or on the chalk boards outside.”

As well as informal dining, there will be a meeting room that can be hired and a bespoke room for event tastings. The new venture will run alongside ‘Mrs B’s Kitchen’ catering business and will create an additional full-time job and between three to five part-time jobs. Mrs Benson is passionate about employing people that share her love of food and are willing to pitch in throughout the whole business.

She said: “Everyone will be trained in every aspect of the kitchen café and I want it to be a place where my staff can be proud to work.

“There are many capable people out there who don’t necessarily want a stressful career anymore but are looking for a job where they feel part of a dynamic team.  I am looking for high energy, multi-tasking people who enjoy serving delicious food to the public!”

Mrs B’s Kitchen has a minimal waste policy and uses plastic only where necessary.

She added: “As a catering company, we’ve been established for 15 years, growing by personal recommendation and repeat business. We are so excited about opening this new venture in Newbury and the café will open up our food to a whole new group of people, as well as providing a central venue for our existing customers!”

Mrs B’s Kitchen was started when she was asked to provide the canapes for a friend’s party and grew from there. The new business is set to open in November and an official launch will take place shortly after that.

Click onto www.mrsb.kitchen for more information

 

The Red House and the Castle Pubs raise £1674 for West Berkshire Mencap

The Red House at Marsh Benham and its sister pub the Castle on Oxford Road have so far raised an incredible £1,673.50 for West Berkshire Mencap thanks to almost a year of fundraising initiatives.

A successful comedy night held at the Red House in April was attended by more than 60 people and raised £300 for the charity. Further funds were raised via donations by a special ‘West Berkshire Mencap Dish of the Day’ and other events and incentives.

Events manager Tim Hirst said: “We’ve been proud to support this great local charity and are delighted with the support from our customers in helping support this important work, caring for people with learning disabilities.

“Everyone on the team really gets behind the quizzes and events and we are particularly happy to support a charity based here in West Berkshire.”

Leila Ferguson, CEO of West Berkshire Mencap, said: “We are delighted at the inventiveness and enthusiasm shown by the teams at the Castle and Red House pubs and would like to say thank you to all of their customers who got involved and donated.

“The money raised will support 18 children with learning disabilities to attend West Berkshire Mencap’s “Summer Play Scheme.”