Planning for long term care

The UK care system is complex, fragmented and expensive, with many elderly people funding care costs themselves.

Those worried that they — or a close relative — might need care in future, should arm themselves with as much information as possible. Discuss options with family early to avoid making rushed decisions at a potentially traumatic time.

Your local council is a good place to start. They have a duty to assess care needs, and provide information on local services and funding options. Councils also assess an individual’s ability to pay. This will look at people’s income and assets.

In England, those with assets of more than £23,250 pay care costs in full. This ‘means-test’ typically includes the value of any property, although it is excluded if a spouse or partner continues to live there. Even those without savings but with good pensions can end up paying care fees themselves.

Those needing care should also look at annuity options. These pay a fixed sum for life, meaning it’s less likely you’ll have to move somewhere cheaper if funds are exhausted.

With residential care costing hundreds of pounds a week, financial planning can help. It isn’t possible to insure against this cost, so save what you can and, if necessary, take specialist advice.

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