Are Next of Kin Responsible for Care Home Fees? A Simple Guide

 In Blog

Key Takeaways

  • You are not legally obligated to pay for your loved one’s care home fees, unless you’ve signed a prior agreement.
  • Your loved one’s assets and income will be assessed to determine how much they can contribute to their care costs.
  • There are various options for funding care, including self-funding, council funding, and NHS support.
  • Be cautious about transferring assets to avoid care fees. Always seek professional advice before taking such actions.
  • Any outstanding care home fees will be paid from your loved one’s estate after they pass away.

Understanding Care Home Fees in the UK

Making the decision that your loved one needs the support of a care home often comes with a mix of emotions. Alongside the focus on ensuring they get the best possible care, there are naturally financial concerns. One of the most common questions families ask is whether they’ll be responsible for covering the costs of care.

It’s important to understand that in the UK, the primary responsibility for care home fees rests with the individual receiving care.  However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be left completely on your own.  The local council (your local authority) will conduct a financial assessment, often called a “means test,” to determine how much your loved one can contribute based on their income and assets.

Funding Sources

There are three main ways care homes are funded in the UK:

  • Self-funding: If your loved one has sufficient savings or income, they can pay for their care directly.
  • Council funding: Your local council may provide partial or full funding based on the results of the financial assessment.
  • NHS funding: In some cases, where care needs arise primarily from a health condition, the NHS may provide funding for care.

The Role of Next of Kin

While it’s a common misconception, you are not automatically obligated to pay your loved one’s care home fees.  The responsibility ultimately rests with them unless you have signed a specific contract with the care home agreeing to cover the costs.

However, there are instances where you may choose to contribute financially:

  • Top-up fees: If the council is providing funding but it doesn’t cover the full cost of your preferred care home, you may choose to pay a “top-up fee” to cover the difference. It’s important to note that you’ll need to sign a contract with the council before agreeing to these payments.

Protecting Assets

It’s understandable to want to protect your loved one’s assets. However, be aware that if you deliberately transfer assets or money with the intention of avoiding care fees, the local council may investigate and view this as “deprivation of assets.”  They may seek to recover funds if they believe this has occurred.

If you are considering transferring assets, it’s absolutely crucial to seek expert financial and legal advice. A financial advisor specialising in elder care or a solicitor can help you make informed decisions that won’t jeopardise your loved one’s financial well-being.

Care Fees After Death

In the unfortunate event that your loved one passes away, any outstanding care home fees will be settled from their estate.  These debts are prioritised before any inheritance is distributed to beneficiaries.

If your loved one had a Deferred Payment Agreement with the local council, this essentially means a loan was taken out against their home.  This outstanding debt will then need to be repaid to the council from the sale of their property, typically within 90 days after their passing.

Options and Support

Navigating funding for care can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there’s support available. Alongside the main funding sources, consider these options:

  • Equity release: Unlocking funds tied up in your loved one’s property.
  • Care annuities: An insurance product providing guaranteed income for care costs.
  • Long-term care insurance: A policy for potential future care needs.
  • Personal health budgets: Council or NHS-funded budgets for personalised care.
  • Care support grants: Charities or local authorities may offer grants.
  • Veterans funding for care: Support may be available for ex-service personnel.

Important: Always consult relevant government websites, Age UK, and organisations specialising in care for the most up-to-date information and resources.

Feeling overwhelmed by care options? 

Let us at Lidder Care guide you through the process of getting care at one of our homes. 

Contact us today to find the best solutions for your loved one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What if my loved one doesn’t have enough savings or income for care fees?

The local council may provide financial assistance based on their assets and income. Additionally, check if they are eligible for benefits like Attendance Allowance or NHS Continuing Healthcare.

Can I be forced to sell my parent’s home to pay for care?

You won’t be forced to sell their home while they’re living in the care home. Consider exploring a Deferred Payment Agreement with the local council, which allows the care fees to be paid later from the sale of the house.

How does a Deferred Payment Agreement work?

A Deferred Payment Agreement is essentially a loan from the council, using your parent’s home as security.  The council pays the care fees on your behalf, and the debt is repaid when their home is sold.

Are there ways to reduce care home costs?

Your loved one might qualify for partial funding from the council. It’s advisable to compare costs between different care homes in your area.  Also, ensure they are receiving all the benefits they are entitled to.

Important: Always seek professional financial advice to fully understand your options and make the best decisions for your loved one’s care.