How Long to Sell Home?

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Help! I Need Care and My Home Is My Biggest Asset

While we perhaps do not like to think too much about it, the reality is that we may reach a point in life when we require long-term care or support in or away from your home. It is important to plan for this possibility and to take steps now to protect yourself – and your family. Can you also protect your house?

If you are wondering how long to sell home because you are concerned about paying for care, there is some information you need to know.

How Long To Sell Home – and Do I Have To?

Again, no one wants to think about it, about the possibility that they may become frail, infirm or otherwise unable to effectively care for themselves. We do not want to consider having someone else attend to even our most basic needs, and we certainly do not want to countenance a decrease in our quality of life. While moving into care is itself an emotional, frightening and even traumatic situation, it can be made worse if you are worried about your finances and whether or not you will be forced to give up your house.

We cannot prevent the aging process – but we can take steps to protect ourselves from the financial and emotional impact. Plan and prepare now.

So to the point: do you have to sell your house to pay for care? Potentially not. You and/or any qualifying dependents who live in the home are entitled to stay there indefinitely. In other words, you cannot be pressured to sell your home if you wish and are able to remain there. Your qualifying dependents may also stay, even if you need care outside of the home.

A qualifying dependent is:

  • Your spouse or civil partner
  • A close family member aged 60 or over or who is incapacitated
  • A family member under age 16 for whom you are legally responsible (e.g. when you have a child or act as the guardian for a minor)
  • Your ex-spouse or ex-partner if they are a single parent

This can be reassuring to some extent. However, it is important to understand the cost of care.

The Often Crushing Cost of Care

A care home costs between £30,000 and £60,000 per year. Recent averages put it at around £888 pounds per week (or £46,176 a year). This depends on the level of care required, preferences and your individual needs. Your local council will conduct a standard means test to learn more about your financial circumstances. They will look at whether or not you have any investments, savings, pensions or other properties. If your combined assets are above £23,250, you must contribute to your own care – often quite substantially. If your assets are less than this figure, you may be able to receive assistance. This will not cover the total cost of care, in most cases.

However, if you can receive care in your home, you are typically able to receive better financial assistance and it will be available faster because care tends to be less expensive in these situations. Keep in mind, though, that intensive 24-hour care is usually more expensive in the home than at a residential facility.

The reality is that you cannot be forced to sell your home to pay for care – but it may become a necessity if you do not receive sufficient financial assistance and cannot afford what you need.

Can you avoid this?

You can do so by creating a Care Fee Will. If you own the house with your spouse, you can specify that both of you wish to gift your share to the other in trust. This allows them to live in the home for the rest of their lives. To do this, you must both own a 50% share of the home.

If you wish to plan ahead and either sell your house or gift it to a family member (e.g. child), there must be a gap of at least 8 years between these actions and the funding of your care. In other words, if you do not have that time in between, the council will still take this into consideration.

If you are wondering how long to sell home because you need care and do not have the funding, know that there are options. Contact the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA). This is a not for profit that helps you find trusted accredited financial advisors who specialise in later life needs.

You may not need to sell; it is important to gather all of the information possible so you can plan.