Looking after Grandpa?

20th January 2016

We do a lot of work for lawyers acting as Deputy to the old and infirm. Whilst we are usually concentrating on the financial aspects I was recently reminded, when dealing with a couple of not so elderly clients, that all too often basic foundations have not been put in place to cater for an unexpected catastrophe.

In this case very sadly Mr Giles, at 67, had an early form of Dementia which led among other things to paranoia and violent behaviour.   It was important to get him settled into 24 hour care quite early in his diagnosis as it became impossible for Mrs Giles to manage him. Such care came at a cost; fairly quickly the NHS placed him into a Care Home and we were asked to look at the financial arrangements.

Mr and Mrs Giles had Powers of Attorney in place. This helped enormously because it allowed Mrs Giles (in this case) to look after Mr Giles’ financial arrangements.160121 Old Man 000021113144

Although Mr Giles had a decent pension and some savings they were not structured in the most appropriate way. Most of the assets were in Mr Giles’ name (although the house was in joint names it would not be assessed for the cost of care because Mrs Giles was still living there) but as the assessment process had started we were unable to make any changes and therefore needed to work with the existing structure.

We were able to split joint assets so that it was clear who owned what. Mrs Giles’ assets would not be assessed. We calculated that Mr Giles’ assets would last around 18 months before they fell to the level where local authority help started to be available (£23,250). Had the assets been held differently local authority funding could have started sooner and some assets may not have been taken into account at all.

Sadly Mr Giles died after only 6 months and his attractive pension turned out to be nothing of the sort as it included no widow’s benefits. Mrs Giles was left with a dramatically reduced income, a limited amount of capital and her house. She faces some very difficult choices, all of which could have been managed much better if a little planning and advice had been taken earlier on.

Things we should all do:

  • Arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney
  • Arrange a Will
  • Think about the financial impacts of the death of either of you when taking pension benefits
  • Think about who owns the assets and if one of you is more likely to need care

Think about how the future might unfold in advance, without the emotions of the event, by taking advice before you are forced to by circumstances.