Q: My husband has been diagnosed with Alzheimer's and has become unpredictable and at times aggressive. Doctors have been unable to balance his medication to prevent his irrational behaviour and have advised me to consider moving him into a residential home. As he doesn't need nursing care I am concerned I might be forced to sell our home to pay for his care. Could this happen? And can I safeguard any of our savings?
A: As long as you are living in the marital home no-one will make you sell it and the property value will not be taken into account in determining how much, if anything, your husband must contribute to his care costs. The same applies to an unmarried couple.
If your husband receives a state pension or state benefits, these must be used towards his care costs. He will however only be required to contribute half of any other pensions he receives, provided that the other half is paid to you. If after these monies have been paid over for his care there is still a shortfall, the remainder must be paid out of savings. The allowed savings threshold is £23,250 in England and £22,500 in Wales. Once assets fall below those figures the Local Authority will contribute towards care home fees. The amount of the contribution is calculated using a formula, with contributions falling as assets fall.
If you have joint savings you can split them into separate accounts of equal value so that only your husband's half is taken into account and your half is protected.
Depending on individual circumstances there may be other ways of protecting your assets, so it would be advisable to seek advice from a Solicitor before you make any decisions. It would also be a good idea for your Solicitor to review your Wills at the same time.