Your home, your assets and your residential care or nursing home fees
If you have to spend some time in a residential care or nursing home, you will have to pay part of your fees. But this doesn't always mean that you will have to sell your home and other assets. You can get information about your options below.
Assessing your contribution to your residential care or nursing home fees
If you live in Northern Ireland and have over £23,250 in capital (savings, investments and property including the value of your home), your local Health and Social Care Trust will assess you as being able to meet the full cost of your residential care or nursing home.
You can get further information at the following link:
If you plan ahead, you can make sure you still have something of value left to leave in your will. There are also ways to avoid selling your home, in case your condition improves and you want to live there again.
What happens if you're a home owner
If you own your home, it may be counted as capital 12 weeks after you move into a residential care or nursing home on a permanent basis. However, your home won't be counted as capital if any of the following people still live there:
- your husband, wife, partner or civil partner
- a close relative who is 60 or over, or incapacitated
- a close relative under the age of 16 who you're legally liable to support
- your ex-husband, ex-wife, ex-civil partner or ex-partner if they are a lone parent
Your local Trust may choose not to count your home as capital in other circumstances - for example, if your carer lives there.
Your home and temporary stays in a residential care or nursing home
If you go into a residential care or nursing home temporarily, you will have to make a contribution to the cost. You may not receive a full financial assessment for the first eight weeks, in which case the Health and Social Care Trust will determine a fair contribution for you to make.
For the next four weeks, a financial assessment will be made to determine what you should pay. As your stay is temporary, your home won't be counted as capital.
- Temporary stays in a residential care or nursing home
- Means tests for help with care costs – how they work (Money Advice Service website)
Keeping your home and assets
Deferred payments agreements
Setting up a family trust
Setting up a family trust is one way of transferring the ownership of your home or other assets to someone else while you're still alive. You should get advice from a solicitor on this because the law surrounding trusts is complicated.
Giving money or property to other people
You may choose to give money or assets to your children or grandchildren. There is no monetary limit on gifts to your children, grandchildren or other relatives, but they may have to pay tax on any interest or income they receive.
If you give an asset to someone within the seven years before you die, the person who receives the gift may have to pay Inheritance Tax on it. It is against the law to transfer ownership of an asset to another person specifically to avoid paying your care home fees.
There is no time limit as to how far back a Trust can go to find out if you have given away assets to avoid paying care costs.
If this is found to have happened, the Trust can treat you as if you still had the asset and you will have to pay for your care accordingly.
If the transfer was within six months of you needing care then the Trust can recover the cost of your care from the person(s) who received the gift.
The law states that if you've transferred an asset to another person within the six months before you get a place in a care home, your local Trust can make you pay your care home fees.
Before you move into a care home permanently, you should plan your inheritance and make a will if you haven't already done so.
Renting out your home
One alternative to selling your home may be to rent it out to tenants and use the rent to pay your care home fees.
Selling your home
If you have to pay the full cost of your care home fees, you may decide to sell your home or other assets.