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Ruling Has Implications in relation to Paying For Care

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A recent case has highlighted that there has been an increase in different generations of family members choosing to live together.

Not only might there be the usual family tensions and disagreements when several generations live together, but there could also be implications in relation to paying for care.

A recent case has highlighted the consequences of living with an elderly relative, when that relative owns the property and later requires residential care.  In Walford v Worcestershire County Council Mrs Walford’s mother needed permanent residential care.  She owned a property that Mrs Walford lived in, however Mrs Walford also rented a flat in London.

Mrs Walford kept a bedroom and office in her mother’s house and many of her personal belongings were kept there.  At the point that her mother went into the care home, she was residing in the rented flat in London. 

Despite this, Mrs Walford argued with the local authority that she viewed her mother’s house as her home and that the value of the property should not be taken into account when the local authority financially assessed her mother and calculated what her mother could pay towards her care.

The Court held that the property could only be disregarded if it was occupied by specific family members at the time that the home owner first goes into care.

The rules regarding whether property should be disregarded are in place to offer protection to family members who are living in the same property as the home owner who needs care.  If the home owner has limited income, and the property is disregarded, this would reduce the home owner’s assets and the amount that they will be assessed as having to contribute towards the cost of their care.

But if the property is included in the home owner’s assets, the local authority may assess the homeowner as having sufficient assets to meet the full cost of paying for their care.  The cost of care may well exceed the home owner’s income and lead to the home owner having no option other than to sell their property to be able to fund their care.  This will mean that the family members who also live in the property will be left in a precarious position and may need to find somewhere else to live. 

You can contact Justine Osmotherley from our Family team on 0113 336 3323 or by email at justine.osmotherley@clarionsolicitors.com.

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