Councils cracking down on care home fee avoidance

By Lenore Rice

Councils are said to be paying more attention to the motivation behind transfers of property by older people to their grown up children before they go into care homes.

Buckinghamshire council is one of the first to say that it is using inspectors to look into the finances of parents who have escaped paying nursing care fees, and previously owned a property which they sold on or transferred to a family member. If they consider that the sole motive behind the property transfer was to conceal their wealth, powers to exist that would enable them to force the sale of the property in order to pay care fees, depending on the timescale involved.

Elderly property owners decide to pass their house on to a family member during their lifetime for a number of reasons, and quite often without any understanding of the implications such a transaction will have in terms on inheritance tax and liability for care home fees. Some people do attempt to transfer their property in a bid to escape paying nursing home fees, often encouraged to do so by one of the children.

When planning for retirement, and beyond that to moving into a care home, it is important to take financial and legal advice around all the issues, such as writing a Will, inheritance tax, liability for care home fees, and other matters.

To speak to a solicitor in Northern Ireland specialising in gifting, trusts, Will writing and inheritance tax, contact Wilson Nesbitt in Belfast or Bangor by calling 0800 840 9293.