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Do I have to sell my home to pay for care?

Your ability to pay for care will be worked out through a means test. Your home will not be included if you receive care and support at home or if you go into a care home on a short-term or temporary basis. If you move into a care home permanently, your home will not be included if, for example, your partner still lives there or, in certain circumstances, a relative.

Currently, if your capital is above £23,250 you’re likely to have to pay your care fees in full. If your capital is under £23,250 you might get some help from the local council, but you may still need to contribute towards the fees.

How does the local authority work out the care home fees I should pay?

If the local council is arranging your care home, they'll do a means test to decide how much you should pay towards it, and they may take into account the value of your home. A means test is a financial assessment where the local council calculates how much you need to pay towards the cost of your care.

The means test will look at your capital and income, such as your savings, property, investments, pensions and any benefits you’re eligible for (even if you’re not claiming them). Certain types of income and capital are ignored in the means test. For example, certain types of benefits, such as the mobility component of Disability Living Allowance or Personal Independence Payment, cannot be counted.

If your capital is above £23,250 you’re likely to have to pay your care fees in full. If your capital is under £23,250 you might get some help from the local authority, but you may still need to pay a contribution to the fees.

Will my home have to be included in the means test?

In some situations, your home won't be taken into account in the means test. There are a few circumstances where this applies:

If you need short-term or temporary care in a care home, your home won't be in the means test.

If your care home is permanent, it won't be counted if it's still occupied by:

  • your partner or former partner, unless they are estranged from you
  • your estranged or divorced partner IF they are also a lone parent
  • a relative who is aged 60 or over
  • a relative who is disabled
  • a child of yours aged under 18

If your property is going to be included in the permanent care home means test, the council must ignore it for the first 12 weeks of your care. This is to give you space to decide what to do with your property and paying fees, for example whether to enter into a deferred payment agreement with the council. You will likely qualify for help with fees from the council for the 12 week period if your other capital assets are under £23,250.

For more information on this topic see our Property and paying for residential care factsheet

How will they calculate the value of my home?

Your property will be included in the means test at its present market value, but less any mortgage or loan you may have on it and less 10% of its value where there would be expenses to sell it.

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We offer support through our free advice line on 0800 678 1602. Lines are open 8am-7pm, 365 days a year. We also have specialist advisers at over 140 local Age UKs.

We jointly own our home – how will it be assessed?

In the means test the local council must take into account joint owners who own different amounts of the property. They shouldn’t assume that joint owners have equal shares, although you may have to provide evidence to prove this.

Check the information above to see if your home should be ignored in the means test.

I really don’t want to sell my home – is there anything I can do?

Giving your home away

Some people consider giving their property to someone else, such as a child or relative, so that it won’t be counted in the means test.

However, this may count as deliberate deprivation of assets, meaning you’d still have to pay the same level of care fees as if you still owned your home. It’s important to find out more about how deprivation of assets would apply to you if this is something you are thinking about.

Deferred payment agreements

If your home is included in the means test, you may be able to delay selling it to pay care fees by entering into a ‘deferred payment agreement’ (DPA) with the local council. This is where the council makes a legal agreement to provide financial support for your care costs, on the condition they will be repaid from your property at a later date. This usually involves the council placing a legal charge on your property with the Land Registry to secure repayment.

A DPA could last until you die, after which the costs will be paid from your estate, or could be a temporary arrangement to give you time to sell your home when you choose to do so. Your local council must offer you this option if you meet certain qualifying criteria.

Find out more about deferred payments in our factsheet: Property and paying for residential care.

What should I do next?

The system of paying for care is complex and every case is unique. We suggest doing more reading before you take any action and contact your local Age UK for face-to-face help.

If you need more help navigating the complex care system speak to your local Age UK


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Last updated: Jul 07 2020

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