In our Ask The Legal Expert column we get the latest specialist advice from the Carmarthen-based rural practice team at JCP Solicitors.
This month Sean Boucher, an Associate Solicitors in Lifetime Planning, based in Carmarthen, tackles an issue around putting your farm estate in trust.
I have been approached by a wealth management firm who say they can help me prevent my farm being sold to fund long-term care, by way of a trust. Should I consider this option to safeguard my daughter’s inheritance? A growing industry has sprung up around the sale of schemes such as this – one firm in particular hit the headlines a few months ago because they are being investigated for fraud.
Moving into a care home can be expensive and many people are forced to sell assets to pay for such care. Help with care costs is available from local authorities, but it is means-tested and your savings and property will be taken into account when determining whether you qualify.
So, it isn’t surprising that people are looking for ways to avoid selling assets to fund care. Putting your property into a trust can be a sensible option in certain circumstances, but it isn’t without risks. If you take this route the asset is no longer in your legal possession so it isn’t part of your capital, and you may not then be required to use it to fund your care.
However, it is crucial to seek tailored legal advice to investigate whether this is the best option for you.
Bear in mind that schemes like these are, in general, being promoted by sales staff, not by legally qualified people.
A legal specialist will help you with the legal complexities and risks, taking into account your family circumstances, health, and finances. It is possible for a local authority to challenge your exemption from care fees under some conditions, so you must be careful.
It may be the case that a trust arrangement would suit you.
These schemes allow you to gift ownership of the farm during your lifetime into a trust, giving you the right to live in the property rent free for as long as you like. If you then need to move into care, your trustees can decide what happens with the farm. You can draw up a document detailing your wishes, which your trustees can be guided by.
However, there may be other options available to you which would be more advantageous in your circumstances.
JCP’s Lifetime Planning team is always on hand for tailored legal support. For specialist legal advice, call Sean Boucher on: 01267 266944 or: Sean. [email protected]solicitors.co.uk
Welsh is spoken at JCP Solicitors’ Carmarthen office.