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Money & Rights

Your Questions Answered

The Choice panel of experts answers your queries on tax, pensions, benefits, investment and the law

Would my mother be entitled to half the marital home?

My mother is 89 and my father 88, and they have been married for 61 years. He is now in a care home and suffers from Alzheimer’s. My mother was his full-time carer but became unable to cope after being hospitalised following a stroke.

There is a Lasting Power of Attorney for my father held by Mum (her daughter is a second attorney), and she is now recovering relatively well.  

My father’s care home fees are in the process of changing as he goes from private funding to State funding now that his savings have dwindled. My mother, meantime, continues to live in their small bungalow but the ownership of the property has always been left in Dad’s name as sole owner, which I think was typical back in 1952 when he bought it. Mum has a separate Will to benefit her two children, but she is concerned that she will be left with nothing. What I would like to know is: does Mum’s estate, should she predecease Dad, have any claim on the value of their home? Is there anything she can do now, under the terms of the LPA, to safeguard part of the value of their home from being 100 per cent assessed by social services towards my father’s care home fees? 

Would she in fact be entitled to 50 per cent of the property value toward her estate anyway and, if so, what would happen to her half-share should she require long-term care as well? I understand there may a possibility to challenge any council decision to keep 100 per cent of the value of the property you could advise on this too?
P Norris, by e-mail

With regard to the property, even if this is held as sole owner in your father’s name, your mother is entitled to remain in it for the remainder of her lifetime. Should your father predecease your mother, then depending on the terms of your father’s Will she may inherit the property in full. Should your mother predecease your father, the property would remain in your father’s estate and would then be valued for long-term care funding purposes. 

With regard to your second question, your mother would not be entitled to 50 per cent of the property value in her own right. In the event of her requiring long-term care, your mother’s personal income and assets would need to be assessed. If your mother was no longer able to reside in the family home, the house would need to be sold to fund your father’s care costs but may be taken into account by the local authorities when assessing your mother’s financial position. This would need to be addressed with the local authority should the situation arise. Unfortunately, despite having a Lasting Power of Attorney over your father’s affairs, your mother would not be entitled to make changes to the ownership of the property.

An acting attorney can only act in the best interests of the person whose affairs they are acting on behalf of. An attorney cannot be seen to make financial decisions for his or her own financial benefit or gain. The local authorities have the right to challenge any transaction that may be deemed as ‘deliberate deprivation of assets’.

I hope this offers some help to your enquiry and that your family continues to prosper in the years ahead.


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