Legal: planning for our welfare
PUBLISHED: 14:03 20 December 2018 | UPDATED: 14:04 20 December 2018
Robert France, solicitor for wills, trusts and probate at HRJ Foreman Laws in Hitchin and Welwyn GC, gives advice on how to plan our finances for old age
As we wait for the government green paper on social care to launch at the end of the year, the mystery surrounding the future of our social care and its costs continues to grow. For many, it’s unclear what to do to prepare for our welfare and that of relatives as we reach older age. At the same time, we also need to consider how we might legally protect our family inheritance. Here are some steps you can take today to help you prepare for the future.
Create or update your will
With careful will drafting it is possible for a spouse to protect part of their estate against care fees should ther partner require care following their death. This can be achieved by creating a trust over the spouse’s interest in the family home or their overall interest in the joint estate. This will benefit the surviving spouse during their lifetime and assets will only pass, following their death, to the children or perhaps grandchildren. The trust allows the surviving spouse to enjoy the estate while protecting the capital value for the benefit of the next generation.
Seek advice before gifting
As a firm we are often asked if assets such as the family home and/or savings can be given away with a view to avoiding future care fees. The local authority will look at your previously owned assets and when you handed them over. If your actions are seen as a deliberate tactic to avoid care fees, the gift could be reversed. The local authority also has the power to claim the care costs from the person who received the gift. Advice should be sought before a property or large sums of money are given away, to ensure you are protected and consideration is given as to whether the gift is likely to be questioned by the local authority.
There are two types of lasting power of attorney. The first deals with property and financial affairs and the second with health and welfare. Should you be unable to manage your affairs, whether due to mental or physical incapacity, friends or family cannot assist unless you have appointed them to act under a lasting power of attorney.
By completing this, your attorneys will be able to access your savings and manage your affairs on your behalf. Without this authority those closest to you will need to apply to the government Office of the Public Guardian to act as your deputy.
This can be a lengthy process which may result in your family looking to their own resources to pay for your care until the court provides them with the appropriate authority to act on your behalf.
Take professional advice
Options are available to protect your estate, assets and family inheritance, while also preparing for the future. Everyone’s circumstances are unique, so it’s not possible to purchase a one-size-fits-all solution. So it’s essential to get the right legal and financial advice, tailored to your needs.
For further advice, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01462 458711