Elder care funding expert calls on legal profession to educate itself for the benefit of clients
A retired Financial Advisor turned care home funding advisor has called on Legal professionals to educate themselves when it comes to paying for old age care.
While selling the house and putting the money in the bank in order to pay care home fees might be the first method many think of, Owain Wright at Care Funding Guidance.org says there are half a dozen ways of paying for it, and not all involve selling the house.
Owain Wright says those making decisions on behalf of self-funders have a duty to ensure their money goes as far as possible, including applying for benefits on their behalf.
Mr Wright said: “There is plenty of room for improvement in the legal sector when it comes to the advice on care funding, in my experience.
“My biggest beefs are that there are basically six ways of paying for care fees, and if you ask any legal bod to name them all, more often than not they wouldn’t have the foggiest what they are. If you’re acting as an attorney, you are duty bound to investigate each of the six, so by default they’re not doing as good a job as they should.
“The second part is they really need to try and get as much free money as they can. Depending on health circumstances there are eight or nine benefits someone going into care can apply for. Self funders might only have two of those, but you’d be amazed how few clients haven’t sorted out their benefits, and they’re not something you can apply for retrospectively.
“The third part is, and I don’t necessarily blame them for this, they don’t often seek guidance with paying for care. That’s one of the reasons we set up Care Funding Guidance, so legal people can come in or call us up and have a natter about what can be done.”
Owain was previously a financial advisor and for nearly thirty years advised on funding long term care. He set Care Funding Guidance up on retiring last year.
Mr Wright said: “For 27 years I’ve been a one trick pony, running care funding advice set-ups. I retired a year ago and I’m too young to put my feet up, but the only thing I know is care funding and I want to do something to solve the problems there are.
“Whether it’s mum, dad or themselves going into care, 90% don’t get any help or guidance with paying care fees. It’s the most expensive ongoing weekly cost in your entire life. They’re going through tens of thousands. I’ve seen estates ripped apart and it doesn’t need to be the case.
“Financial advisers are largely discredited, not individually but as a group generally, so many families don’t seek advice, so we’ve built a guidance service. We can’t and don’t tell what to do, but we can understand circumstances and explain options, and for most people that guidance is all they need, so it’s a bit of a departure.
“For most families, if I was putting my mum in a care home, it’d be stick mum in the home, sell house and then there’s money in the bank to pay for it, problem solved, but that’s only one way of six, and I would have forgotten to apply for so many benefits.
“We have a guide for legal folk on our site, or feel free to get in touch, and if you do nothing else, we’re a free resource, so we won’t be shouting down the phone at you.”