As part of the investigations, the inspectors can demand to see notes from meetings with financial advisers as well as any legal documents signed with solicitors.
If they find people deliberately tried to avoid their homes being used in the council care calculation this is known as ‘deliberate deprivation.’ They can then use special powers to reverse the transfer of ownership back to parents so the home will be used in the test for funding.
Councils are more likely to investigate elderly people who switch their properties before going into care, but if this is done two or more years before investigations are less likely. Anyone who switches ownership six months before going into care is likely be liable for care home bills.
Authorities cannot force people to sell properties but can demand people pay the money, leaving people forced to pay the bill out of their savings, apply for a deferment or sell the house.
Age UK has published guidance for families about the dangers of signing over property to avoid care fees, warning that this could be a “risky act” in a “grey area” of the law.
The Government introduced a £72,000 cap on the amount anyone should pay for care in their lifetime and new rules on who qualifies for state support. The scheme promised that anyone facing the prospect of having to sell their home could ask the local council to settle their care bills on a long-term loan to be repaid from their estate.