A row of houses

Selling a home to pay for care: Is it always necessary?

Some people have to sell their home to help pay for their care, but there are many situations where people do not have to do this.

‘My aunt has dementia and may need to move into a care home soon. Will she need to sell her home to pay for her care?’ 

Your aunt won’t necessarily have to sell her home to pay for her care – it depends on her circumstances. 

Her local authority will assess her finances to see how much of her care fees she must pay herself. There are situations where her property wouldn’t be included in this financial assessment. Even if it is, there might be alternatives to selling her home. 

Care at home 

While your aunt has a care package at home that meets her needs, this home will not be included in her local authority’s financial assessment.

Many people with dementia live well at home for many years, adjusting their care package as their needs change. 

If your aunt needs to move into residential care, her local authority must ignore her home in its financial assessment when particular people also live there. 

‘Qualifying’ people 

If your aunt needs to move into residential care, her local authority must ignore her home in its financial assessment when particular people also live there. 

This is called a ‘mandatory property disregard’ and it applies while a ‘qualifying person’ lives in your aunt’s home.

A ‘qualifying person’ could be a partner or spouse, or an estranged or divorced partner if they’re a lone parent. It also includes certain relatives who are disabled or aged 60-plus. If your aunt has children aged under 18 who live there, it applies to them too. 

More leeway 

If there isn’t a compulsory reason for the local authority to ignore your aunt’s home in its financial assessment, it may still use its discretion to not include it. 

For example, it might do this if someone has given up their own home to move in with your aunt and care for her. This isn’t guaranteed – it’s the local authority’s choice over whether it provides this leeway. 

Rent or defer 

If your aunt’s home is included in her local authority’s financial assessment, she may need to sell it to pay for her care. However, there might be ways to avoid or delay this. 

Some people can rent out their property and use the rental income to cover care fees. This wouldn’t suit everybody, but it could work for some.

For legal advice, Solicitors for the Elderly could help find a solicitor near you with relevant experience.

Others make an agreement with the local authority to ‘defer’ or delay paying for care. Costs usually need to be paid back within certain timeframes, with fees and interest added. For some people, this means they don’t have to sell the home, at first or at all. 

You can complain to the local authority if you disagree with it including a person’s home in a financial assessment for care costs. 

For legal advice, Solicitors for the Elderly could help find a solicitor near you with relevant experience. 

Legal and financial

Financial and legal issues for people with dementia and their carers, including assessments and paying for care.

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Dementia together magazine: Feb/Mar 20

Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
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Dementia together magazine is for everyone in the dementia movement and anyone affected by the condition.
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