Planning for Change - The Care Act
Imogen Holmes, partner, takes a look at what the planned changes to the Care Act mean for care costs and what you need to do to protect you and your family’s assets.
The implementation of The Care Act was initially planned to take place in two stages. Some of these changes took effect on 1st April 2015 and the introduction of the care cap was to be introduced in April 2016.
However, the government recently announced that the care cap and enhanced capital thresholds planned for April 2016 would be delayed until 2020 to allow local authorities (LAs) more implementation time.
The care cap is designed to offer you some financial protection against unlimited care costs, preventing you from losing lifelong savings. Under the care cap, (LAs) are required to provide personal budgets for those qualifying for state funding. However, the capital threshold at which the LA has an obligation to contribute to care costs will remain at £23,250 for the time being (in conjunction with property disregards).
Eventually everyone with eligible needs will have a personal budget which will be used to measure self-funded contributions against the care cap.
The changes that have already taken effect in April this year mean that (LAs) are now required to apply new national eligibility criteria, making it clearer when they have a duty to provide care. Anyone in need of support (including carers), regardless of their financial circumstances, are now entitled to a free assessment. The LA must adopt a person-centred approach, identifying outcomes to achieve and how they enhance wellbeing.
The best way to protect you and your family’s assets is to act early and seek specialist legal advice. There are a number of steps you can take to help plan for changes in your health and care.
Putting health & welfare and financial Lasting Powers of Attorney in place ensures that people close to you, who know and understand your needs and wishes, have authority to make a wide range of decisions for you if you lack capacity. This often helps reduce risk of conflict, especially around decisions connected to medical treatment and living arrangements.
An up to date will which is tailored to your assets and allows a degree of flexibility, is also vital to ensure the needs of your family and dependants are met long term, and alongside any care contribution assessment.
If you would like advice on putting Lasting Powers of Attorney in place, making or updating your will, please do contact me and I'll be happy to help