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Paying for social care (older people)

Wills

This page covers:
• Reasons why people made or revised wills when thinking about care
• Who people asked for expert advice

Making a will is important for everyone. It is crucial to get legal advice about making a will as it’s easy to get things wrong. Frances told us that her local Age UK had a solicitor who visited every month and gave half hour consultations for free.

Not many of the people we spoke to mentioned wills in relation to paying for care. Those who did said that when their spouse started to need a lot more care, this prompted them to review their wills. They told us that the reason for reviewing their wills was because they wanted to leave some inheritance for their children and were worried that it would all be spent on care. However, most people said that their children just wanted them to spend what they needed on care or anything else they wanted to do. 

When a couple make wills, they often leave everything to each other. A few people told us that they had changed their will to leave everything to their children rather than their spouse or partner. They told us that to make this happen they first had to change the ownership of their home to something called ‘tenants in common’. 

For example, Frances’ mother made a will stating that her half of the value of the house she owned with her husband would be left to their daughters but her husband could continue living in the house or buy another property with the money during his lifetime.

 

Frances and her father used the money to buy a house together so that he could live with her.

Frances and her father used the money to buy a house together so that he could live with her.

Age at interview: 52
Sex: Female
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I did forget to say with my mum and dad’s wills, with my mum and dad’s wills I can’t remember what it was called, they had a tenants in common part to the will; so obviously half of the value of the house that they lived in was mum’s, whether she was alive or dead, and in the will it would have gone to me and my sister, so that money had to be put in Trust. We could use it, so we did use it, or some of it to buy the next house, so my dad could use the money but only for premises, not for spending.

It is important to talk things through with experts such as a solicitor or a specialist later life financial adviser to find out what options there are for wills and ownership of property. Changing ownership of property can be subject to taxation and can be looked at in a local council financial assessment (see What is a financial assessment?). 

Margaret told us that when her husband moved into a care home, she changed her will so she left her half of the house to her children. This would mean they would have an inheritance and her husband would have money to pay for care from his half of the house.

 

Margaret was able to change her will after her husband moved into residential care.

Margaret was able to change her will after her husband moved into residential care.

Age at interview: 79
Sex: Female
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But this is how it works though; you see if I now, so I have changed my will but [husband’s name] can’t have changed his will because he’s got dementia, but I changed my will so that the, it goes to the children, OK? So that if I die before [husband’s name] the house has to be sold but the children only get sort of half of it and the other half then he will have to, because he will suddenly have a lot of money he will have to start paying the full amount again out of his money. So, you know, people that are savvy had to change their wills before so the they didn’t leave it to each other, they left it to the [laughs] I don’t know, with a clause; you can have a clause in that says if they’re still alive then they, or something, I don’t know. But you can, legally you can round all this but we weren’t savvy enough.

People can make a will at any time as long as they have the mental capacity to do so. If a person does not have mental capacity, for example if they are living with dementia, they may not be able to change their will. 

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