Care home costs debate needs to focus on trusts advises leading legal expert

The worries over long term care haemorrhaging equity in family homes is avoidable if property is put into trusts, advises one of the East Midlands leading law firms.

Frankie Harwood, an expert in Wills and Trusts at QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank, said that despite much talk in the media in recent years about the financial effect of care home fees, not enough was being said about trusts.

“For most people the family home is their main asset and there are great fears it will be sold to fund care in the future,” said Ms Harwood.

“I’m often asked what can be done to stop this happening,” she added.

Ms Harwood, who is based at QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank’s Coalville headquarters, said many people believe the best solution is to gift the property to intended beneficiaries and this will prevent it being sold if through illness or old age a parent goes into a care home.

However, she warned that gifting is not always effective and it exposes people, in most case parents, to risks if one of the intended beneficiaries become bankrupt and their share of the property will be acquired through bankruptcy proceedings.

“To add to this, one of the intended beneficiaries could go through a divorce and your property will be considered part of their matrimonial assets when finances are being dealt with,” she added.

“So essentially if you give your property away you have no control over what happens to it thereby limiting your ability to control the property and your options for your future.

She said putting the property into trust provides protection in that the home then usually doesn’t have to be sold for care home costs.

“The benefit of writing the property into a trust is so that you can protect it from being used for care fees, but still have the security that you have somewhere to live,” she said.

Ms Harwood said the issues surrounding trusts and protecting family homes are complex and those who wish to pursue this avenue should contact an experienced Wills and Trusts lawyer.

Anyone wishing to know more, or set up a trust can speak to QualitySolicitors Mander Cruickshank on 01530 510666.

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