Deprivation of assets occurs when someone intentionally reduces their savings, properties, or income to avoid paying or reduce their contribution towards the cost of care home fees. Local councils have the authority to investigate these situations and may still calculate your fees as if you owned those assets.

Navigating the financial aspects of care home placement can be overwhelming, especially when faced with the complex concept of deprivation of assets. This occurs when an individual intentionally diminishes their assets in an attempt to reduce their financial responsibility for care costs. Understanding the rules and consequences surrounding deprivation of assets is crucial to ensure you make informed and ethical decisions regarding your finances and care.

What is Deprivation of Assets?

Let’s break down the idea of deprivation of assets. In essence, it means intentionally reducing your savings, property, or other valuable possessions to make it seem like you have fewer resources to pay for care home fees. Here are a few ways this might happen:

  • Gifting: Suddenly giving a large amount of money or transferring ownership of your house to a family member or friend.
  • Undervaluing: Selling your car for far less than its market value.
  • Spending sprees: Making unusually large or extravagant purchases that don’t align with your typical spending habits.
  • Investments: Using your savings to buy things that might be disregarded in financial assessments for care costs.

Example: Imagine an elderly woman named Sarah needs to move into a care home. Knowing the costs involved, she gives away a significant portion of her savings to her children. This could be seen as a potential attempt to lessen the amount considered in a financial assessment.

The key point is intention. If you reduce your assets with the primary goal of avoiding or reducing care home costs, local councils might consider it deprivation of assets.

Why is Deprivation of Assets a Concern?

Local councils have a responsibility to ensure the fair distribution of resources for care home services. When you apply for care home placement, they’ll usually conduct a financial assessment (also known as a means test) to determine how much you should contribute towards the cost of your care. This assessment takes into account your income, savings, and any property you own.

Deprivation of assets undermines this system for several reasons:

  • Fairness: Intentionally reducing your assets to avoid paying your fair share puts a greater financial burden on the council and, by extension, other taxpayers who contribute to the funding of care services.
  • Resource Allocation: If individuals can easily avoid paying what they are able to, it depletes resources intended for those who genuinely cannot afford the full cost of their care.
  • Legal Obligation: Local councils have a legal duty to investigate potential cases of deprivation of assets to protect the system’s integrity.

To assess whether deprivation of assets has taken place, councils carefully investigate:

  • Timing: Did the reduction of assets occur at a time when you could reasonably foresee needing care in the near future?
  • Intention: Was the primary motivation for disposing of assets a desire to avoid or lessen your financial responsibility for care costs?

If the council concludes that deliberate asset reduction has happened, they may have the authority to calculate your care home fees as if you still owned those assets. This ensures that you contribute a fair amount based on your true financial situation.

What Doesn’t Count as Deprivation of Assets

It’s important to understand that not every instance of giving away money or assets automatically raises a red flag for deprivation of assets. Here are some legitimate reasons for asset distribution that are unlikely to be considered as attempts to avoid care costs:

  • Consistent Charitable Giving: If you have a long history of donating to charities or causes, this generally demonstrates a pattern of generosity rather than a sudden attempt to reduce assets before needing care.
  • Customary Gifts: Gifts for birthdays, holidays, or other special occasions within reasonable amounts are considered normal and are unlikely to be scrutinised.
  • Long-term Financial Planning: Decisions about assets made years before the need for care became apparent – like setting up trusts for children or grandchildren – are less likely to be viewed as an attempt to evade care fees.

The key factor councils focus on is whether you had a foreseeable need for care when distributing your assets. If you could not reasonably have anticipated needing care services, your actions are less likely to be considered deprivation of assets.

What Happens If I Gave Assets Away Long Ago?

Unfortunately, there’s no simple answer to the question of how long ago is “too long ago” when it comes to the council investigating asset transfers. They don’t have a fixed cutoff date. Instead, they make assessments on a case-by-case basis.

Here’s the key point: the focus is on whether you could realistically have known that you might need care at the time you gave away assets. If you were healthy and active with no reason to anticipate care needs, an asset transfer made years ago is less likely to be considered deprivation of assets.

However, it’s really important to have strong documentation to support your case. For example:

  • Records of medical appointments demonstrating your good health at the time.
  • Evidence of the reasons behind the asset transfer (e.g., supporting a family member’s education, helping with a down payment for a house, etc.).

Remember, even if you gave away assets in the distant past, the council may still investigate the circumstances if they have reason to suspect deprivation.

Getting Help and Navigating the Situation

The financial complexities of care home placement, especially when considering deprivation of assets, can feel daunting. It’s crucial to remember you’re not alone and that seeking professional advice before making major asset decisions is essential. Here’s a breakdown of resources to help you navigate the situation:

Resource Type Description Links
Solicitors specialising in care home funding Offer expert legal and financial guidance on ethically managing assets and navigating care home costs. A search for “Solicitors for the Elderly” can help you find a specialist
Local Age UK or other elder care organisations Provide tailored advice and support specifically for older individuals and their families. [Age UK] (https://www.ageuk.org.uk/) or find your local branch
Your local council’s social services department While they investigate deprivation of assets, they can also clarify the financial assessment process and your rights. Find your council’s website (www.gov.uk/find-local-council/)

 

Seeking expert advice ensures you make informed choices, protect your assets legitimately, and have peace of mind that you’re financing your care fairly and responsibly.

Navigating Care Costs Responsibly

Understanding deprivation of assets is essential when considering long-term care options. While it’s natural to want to protect your assets and potentially pass them on to loved ones, it’s equally important to ensure that you approach the cost of care fairly and responsibly.

Financial decisions related to care home placement are often complex and highly individualised. Seeking professional guidance from solicitors, elder care organisations, and your local council is crucial to make informed choices that balance your needs with legal and ethical considerations.

Don’t let concerns about care costs hold you back. Contact Ashberry Healthcare for care services that balance quality care and financial responsibility. Get in touch today.

 

FAQ

What is the 6-month rule for deprivation of assets? 

There is no specific, official “6-month rule” in the UK for deprivation of assets. Councils assess each case individually, looking at timing and intent to avoid care costs. Decisions are not based on an arbitrary timeframe.

 

What does not count as deprivation of assets? 

Several actions generally don’t count as deprivation of assets:

  • Gifts within normal gifting practices (birthdays, holidays, etc.)
  • Consistent charitable donations
  • Long-term financial decisions made well before needing care

Is deprivation of assets a crime? 

Deprivation of assets itself isn’t usually a crime. However, if it’s found to be deliberate deception with the intent to defraud the local council, there could be legal repercussions including potential fines or, in extreme cases, prosecution.

 

What is not classed as deprivation of assets universal credit? 

Universal Credit has its own rules about capital (savings/assets) so the concepts overlap but aren’t identical. Here’s a key point:

  • Gifting money away to specifically reduce assets in order to qualify for Universal Credit likely would be considered a deprivation, even if it wouldn’t fall under deprivation of assets in the care home funding context.