During the coronavirus pandemic we have seen some upsetting examples of how elderly people have felt lost and abandoned when their families are unable to visit them in their care home. 
This has been an exceptional time. In most cases your loved ones will be happy and well looked after in their care home, but it isn’t surprising that many families wanted to bring their relatives home during the outbreak. 
However, if your family member has been assessed as not having capacity to make decisions about their care for themselves, they might be subject to the rules concerning deprivation of liberty (DOL). This means that they won’t be free to leave. 

Health and welfare lasting power of attorney 

If your loved one no longer has capacity to make decisions about their care and treatment, someone who has a lasting power of attorney (LPA) for their health and welfare can make decisions on their behalf. 
As their attorney you must decide what is in their best interests, considering their past and present wishes and feelings. Their care provider should allow you to visit to consult with them and anyone involved in caring for them. If, in your view, it would be in their interests to move to another care home or into your home you will be in a much stronger position. 
If your relative hasn’t put an LPA in place, then the DOL safeguards could apply and they will only be free to leave if their care professionals agree it’s in their best interest. 

Care home fees, property and savings 

There are over 290,000 people over 65 currently living in care homes in the UK. Their local authority might contribute towards the care fees if they have limited funds, but if they have capital assets over £23,250 they won’t receive any help with their fees. 
While homes where a husband, wife, partner or civil partner currently live can’t be included in a means test calculation by your local authority many older people who live alone will spend a large part of their income and savings on care home fees. They might sell their home to pay for their care as they grow older. 
If you are considering the possibility of moving into a care home and hoping your children or other relatives will inherit your property when you die, there are some important steps you can take. You can change the way you own your home so that you can pass on your share in your Will
Are you joint tenants or tenants in common? - many couples own their property as joint tenants. Each partner owns the whole property equally. When one partner dies, their share in the property automatically passes to the other. 
The alternative is to own the property as tenants in common, which means you each own part of the home. In this case, when one of you dies, the property can be passed on under a Will instead of automatically going to the surviving partner. 
If you were to leave your portion of the property to your children but allow your partner to stay in the property with a life interest, your share of the property won’t be taken into consideration when the local authority assesses your partner’s capital assets. 
If you would like to know more about how to set up a health and welfare LPA or about how to pass on your share of a property in your Will, please get in touch
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