Can I transfer ownership or gift my house to avoid care home costs?
Can I transfer ownership or gift my house to avoid care home costs?23 November 2022 Written by James & George Collie

Successfully avoiding care home costs very much depends on individual circumstances, and many schemes and products claim to do just that. But often, these arrangements fail to deliver.

Retaining access to your capital assets gives you choice and independence, and one of the main risks of transferring ownership into another’s name, even if they are a close family member, can have potentially serious implications for those who don’t move into a care home.

What is a Transfer of Title?

Transferring property from one person to another is achieved by changing the names on the title deed - called Transfer of Title. This is a legal process, and once completed, ownership changes. Out go the previous owner’s rights to the property, together with their ability to control it. If you are considering a property transfer, think about what you would do if the new owner failed to act in accordance with your wishes or how you might be affected by future disagreements.

Deprivation of capital?

There is also the real issue of deprivation of capital. If the local authority believes you have given away money or transferred property into another’s name in order to avoid paying care home fees, they may decide you have deprived your assets of capital. It may also count as deprivation if you sell a property for less than its actual value.

Unfortunately, there is no “7-year rule” when it comes to paying for care and the Council can go back as far as they wish when investigating deprivation of assets. 

Intention and timing

Intention and timing are the main factors here. Individuals have many reasons for wanting to dispose of property, and avoiding care home fees may not be the main motivation. When looking at someone’s intention to deprive their capital of assets, a local authority has no time limit and can go back many years. This means it is particularly difficult to forecast whether a local authority is likely to raise an issue in any future financial assessments.

If a local authority thinks you have ‘deliberately’ deprived yourself of capital assets, the consequences of breaking the deprivation rules include:

  • For periods of over six months before the transferee went into a care home, a local authority can treat them as still owning the property and include the ‘notional value’ of it in any financial assessment. This means that you will be treated as if you still own the property, and may not be entitled to help towards care home costs.
  • For periods within six months of the person entering a care home, a local authority may seek to recover the charges from the person to whom the property was transferred.

The rules on care funding can change without warning, so any arrangement you make to avoid paying care fees may not be fruitful. If you are in good health, live independently, and there is no pressing reason for you to be taken into long-term care, then there is a greater prospect of success. Although it should be noted, there is no guarantee.

If you can evidence other important considerations for the transfer, then it may be more difficult for a local authority to claim, ‘deliberate deprivation’. This could be as simple as having a dependent with additional needs and ensuring they continue to live in their home after your death. 


If you are thinking about paying for care fees in future or considering a Transfer of Title , please contact one of our solicitors today by calling 01224 087284 or complete our online enquiry form and a member of the team will be in touch.

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