Park Homes & the elderly

(Nikki Hobbs) #1

Hello, does anyone have experience of park homes and planning to help the elderly? My client’s husband has dementia and she is elderly. They live in a park home, which they own but obviously they do not own the land upon which it is sited.

Husband advanced in dementia and medics confirm he is unlikely to have capacity to change his own will. Power of attorney in place.

My client is extremely worried in case she dies first. If she dies first the property would be sold and her husband would move in with her daughter if he was not in need of a care home. I looked at splitting the beneficial ownership of what is essentially a chattel and putting her half into a life interest trust for husband on her death and then passing to his children on his death.

I cannot find anywhere information on how splitting ownership like this would be viewed by the local council in relation to care fees if the husband has to enter care while the wife is still alive. The most I can find is that the council cannot put a charge on the park home so the deferred payment scheme will be unavailable.

Does this mean that if he enters care the council expect his wife to sell the home and my client will be forced to move out? I am really concerned that she has the right information as she is vulnerable, being elderly and infirm herself, although of sound mind. Does anyone have experience of similar cases or know where I could for sound advice?

Thank you in advance for any help.

Nikki Hobbs
Respect Wills

(Tim Gibbons) #2

I’ve no direct experience with regard to park homes in this situation but I think that if the husband goes into care the home should be treated as capital to be disregarded in the financial assessment process as long as the wife is living there. In Tolley’s Law & Finance for the Older Client see the section ‘Disregarding the capital value of the home’

If she dies first I don’t see any difficulty in her leaving her beneficial interest in the kind of trust you mention. What is a little more difficult is how to determine the beneficial interests in the park home and, if it is held on the chattel equivalent of joint tenancy, how exactly she should act to sever it- bearing in mind that the process in relation to land is now largely governed by statute.

In the past I have made agreements between clients to sever the joint ownership of valuable chattels (usually vintage cars) and I am reasonably confident that these are effective. I’m not so confident about a unilateral notice of severance served on an incapable co-owner, although it is accepted (by the Land Registry, at least on an application to register a restriction) in relation to land.

Tim Gibbons