Anthony Fairweather, elderly care expert, comments on two stories about care fee funding in the news today:
As I drove to an appointment today two items of news came to my attention.Â Â Both highlight issues that I have written about on this blog many times before.
Firstly the Tory MP Peter Bone has released a statement explaining the dealings that he and his family have had regarding care fee funding with Northamptonshire County Council. He refers in his statement to a sworn affidavit by his mother-in-law, in which she stated:
˜I would like to make it clear from the start that my daughter Jeanette had full authority from me to use my money as she thought fit and for whatever purpose as I know she would always look after me. I knew Jeanette was using my money to pay off personal debts incurred while she was ill and towards my grandson’s school fees, as well as care home fees and personal expenses, that is why I signed the power of attorney. I did not want to know the detail of how the money was spent. That was entirely up to Jeanette. I just cannot understand why the Police are investigating Jeanette and Peter. I have no complaint.”
Next, I listened to a lively debate on the Victoria Derbyshire Radio 5 Live show about care fee funding with the excellent Ros Altmann. One of the main challenges for families is where to get good advice about care fee funding. There are now ‘advisers’ stalking outside supermarkets and ‘no win no fee’ offers of help; you name it, but it is still difficult to know who to turn to.
I have written on numerous occasions about the role and responsibilities of an Attorney and the times when you can or cannot make gifts. The Law Society also has helpful guidance about making gifts of assets and Lasting Powers of Attorney.
I would recommend that you look at the website of SOLLA (Society of Later Life Advisers), which has useful information about the financial aspects of care fee funding. Another organisation that is worth considering is Solicitors for the Elderly. They have a list of lawyers who are specialists in this kind of work.
There is no doubt that the financial pressures on Local Authorities will result in greater scrutiny and assessments will become more intense. While you can plan ahead, my main tip is to get good advice. I would weigh up all the options and discuss them with your family. If there is a clear cost to obtaining advice it is often better than if there is no apparent cost. There will always be a cost hidden somewhere. The cost needs to be weighed against the peace of mind it provides for the family and the possible financial saving it may bring further down the line. A good starting point is a well structured will.