You may find yourself in the situation where you are having to pay for your husband or wife’s care from funds in your joint bank account. But who does the government see as the “owner” of assets in the account when calculating what a person has to contribute towards the care costs?
Currently, if someone goes in to care they will have to pay for the care themselves known as “self-funding”. They will continue to pay for care until the value of their assets such as homes and cash in the bank depletes to an upper threshold limit of £23,250. At this point the local authority will contribute to the care fees.
If you have a joint bank account, any money within that account is split equally between the two names on the account. For example, if there was £30,000 in the joint bank account, the local authority would assess this as having £15,000 each. In a similar example if you had £120,000 in the joint account, the local authority would assess you has having £60,000 each. Given this is above the upper threshold of £23,250 you would have to pay £36,750 towards your care before you could expect to receive any help.
There are caveats to the above. If the joint bank account was set up to be anything other than equally divided or (for example) in the case of inheritance, one partner puts in substantially more money into the joint account there may be a case to challenge asset value between partners.
Another consideration is what is termed a deprivation of assets. If officials, see money being deliberately pooled and moved around between different names and accounts, it may be deemed as a deliberate attempt to deprive oneself of assets in order to reduce your care fee liability.
Your asset value is calculated once you have had your care needs assessed. Most people’s needs change with the passage of time and if you are re-assessed, an updated asset value is calculated as if it was the first time. Hence, remaining assets will be equally divided again at that point, negating any funds that have already been paid.
The value of your house will also be taken into consideration. However, if your partner or spouse has been living there at the time the other goes into care you will continue to be allowed to stay living there providing;
- You are the partner/civil partner or spouse or
- Are over 60 or under 16 or you
- Have a disability
This is by no means an exhaustive list of considerations when paying for care. Rules and regulations change, and every situation should be treated on a case by case basis. You should contact your local authority for the latest guidelines and clarification.