Currently, the local authority will take into account assets worth more than £14,250 when assessing if you should contribute towards paying for your own care.
If you are assessed by the Local Authority as needing residential or nursing care, you would be means-tested to calculate how much you should contribute to the cost of that care. The means-test is compulsory and takes into account both your income and capital.
The value of the property is currently disregarded if a spouse is still living in the house. However if both of you/the survivor of you entered a care home, the local authority would take into account your share in the property and any other financial assets (ie shares, bank accounts).
You may decide to give away your assets prior to going into care; however, if the Local Authority believes you have done this with the motivation of deliberately depriving yourself of an asset to avoid paying your care fees, they could ignore the transaction and assess you as though you still owned the assets.
In the scenario of a married couple, it may be worth considering leaving their half share of the matrimonial home to a family trust. The trust will hold the half share of the house for the benefit of the survivor so that they can live in the house rent free during their lifetime, however the survivor would not be deemed to own that half share of the house if they were ever assessed in relation to contributing towards their care costs.
The Trust rules would state that the house could be sold and the proceeds used to purchase a new property to cover the scenario of the survivor wanting to move or downsize.
Our specialist team can advise you on the pros and cons of creating a trust in your Will and discuss the options with you.