Planning for the future - your home and getting older

9th October 2013 posted in Property News Sellers

Getting older is a fact of life and for some of us, it will mean selling the family home and moving into different accommodation. For the elderly, this could mean sheltered housing, or it could mean moving into a nursing home, if their health isn’t too good.

According to Eldercare, “about 85% of those having to meet care cost themselves either get no advice or they receive advice that does not include information about all their funding options.”

Bearing this in mind, we’ve put together some advice on how best to prepare for the time when you can be described as in your twilight years.

Selling your property

This can be a very stressful scenario, whether it’s yourself or a relative doing most of the work and it’s not always easy to know if you’re doing the right thing. There is, of course, the option of letting the property, but this is never going to be a long-term solution.

The key is to choose a good agent to help sell the property and this just requires research. Often, an independent estate agent, rather than a national, will be a good choice as they can offer a more bespoke service and are not tied to lenders, solicitors and other professionals, so can give you independent advice.

You can also find specialist services in the UK that will help you choose an agent, market the property and gain the right valuation.

These often offer a complete service that includes everything right down to taking meter readings once you’ve moved out.

They can also include:

  • Arranging for your excess belongings to be valued and sold

  • Arrange for repairs to be done to help the sale along

  • Looking after the property while it’s empty

  • Oversee the agent and sale of the home

  • Arranging your care and payment for the foreseeable future

Of course, it pays to get advice when looking at using this kind of service so that you choose a reputable firm with an excellent track record. Services such as this are extremely useful and can save you a lot of stress, but charlatans do exist so don’t take every business you speak to at their word.

What if I don’t want to sell up?

If you want to rent your home to tenants, then it’s vital that you use a letting agent to manage all aspects of this for you. They can liaise with a member of your family to deal with everyday problems that may crop up and will save you a lot of hassle that you are probably not equipped to deal with, even if you have the inclination. However, it’s not always the best solution, as your care has to be paid for somehow and unless you have capital and savings less than £23,250, then you will have to fund the cost of care yourself (depending on your circumstances).

Your home may be treated as capital for 12 weeks following your move, unless one of the following people live there:

  • Your spouse

  • A close relative that’s disabled or over 60

  • A close relative under 16 years that is your legal responsibility

  • An ex-spouse, especially if they are a single parent

Transferring your assets

Of course, you may choose to transfer ownership of your home to a relative such as one of your children and this is completely legal. However, do bear in mind that the relative may have to pay Inheritance Tax should the unthinkable happen and you pass away.

Also bear in mind that it’s against the law to transfer a home with the specific goal of not paying for your care. If you do this and the relevant trust finds out, they can take a case back as many years as they like in order to discover if this has been done.

The Trust can also behave in such a way as if you still own the house and charge you accordingly. If you transfer an asset in the six months that come before you move into a care home, it’s likely you will be made to pay the care home fees.

Selling up before going into a home is really the best option you can take as it will give you enough in the bank to be able to afford care at a time in your life when you need it the most. Estate agents, solicitors, specialist firms and your family can all pitch in to make sure that the transition from being a home owner goes as smoothly as possible.