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The firm I have my internet will with recently sent a rep to my home to advise on trust funds.

They were trying to persuade me to take one out. I am a widowed pensioner aged 73 with three children and own my modest bungalow and some savings.

They said it would protect me and my family from any future care home costs if my home was in a trust fund.

I looked into it and have seen conflicting advice with some saying the council can still put a charge on my property for care costs.

Some say if I do it early enough, about seven years before it’s needed, it won’t be classed as deliberate deprivation in terms of care home costs. Hope you can advise as I’m quite confused.

Heather Rogers replies: You don’t say whether your will was prepared by an online solicitor service or whether you have used a will writing company, but your mention of ‘sent a rep to my home’ does concern me a little.

While a local solicitor will happily come to you at home if you find attending their office difficult, this does rather hint at a pushy ‘follow up sale’ which could be both expensive and ineffective.

I will cover the wills issue first and then move on to your specific question.

How to ensure your will is valid and reflects your wishes

Believe it or not, the will writing industry is NOT regulated. You can:

– Write one yourself

– Use a will writing service

– Use a solicitor.

In my opinion, the only way to ensure that you have good protection is by using a solicitor. This is because solicitors are regulated by the Solicitors Regulation Authority.

There are some professional will writing services out there, and some do use solicitors to review the wills they draw up.

However, many do not, and your executors may not have any redress if things go wrong after you die as a result of a poorly drafted will and bad advice.

Everyone should have a will, and if your circumstances change you will need to review it.

For example, you should do so if you get married – your will generally becomes invalid on marriage – or divorced, receive an inheritance, purchase new assets, or a beneficiary dies.

It is best to revisit your will even if no changes occur, to make sure no legislative changes affect it.

A good local solicitor will be happy to visit you at home if you have health issues. A simple will often costs about £200 plus VAT if you use a solicitor. More complex wills will cost more. Meanwhile, your solicitor will usually store a copy of your will for no charge.

In light of the above, you might want to get your existing will reviewed, and consider using a solicitor if you did not already do so.

Can setting up a trust help you avoid care fees?

Turning to your question about whether it is worth creating a trust, let’s look at what assets are assessed for care fees.

A financial assessment is carried out by the local authority and under current rules, councils will pay all or part of your care costs if your assets are below £23,250. This will rise in October 2025 to £100,000.

If you move into care leaving your property unoccupied, the property is taken into account as part of a financial assessment to determine your contribution to your care.

Other assets taken into account are pensions, savings and investments, and an assessment of income is also carried out.

If you need a carer to come into your home, rather than you moving into a care home, then the value of your home is not taken into account.

When it comes to people giving away assets to avoid care fees, including by setting up a trust, local authorities have the power to come down on this pretty severely.

The first thing to make clear is that the ‘seven year rule’ that you mentioned in your question does not apply here.

This only applies to gifts with regards to inheritance tax, not to care home fee assessments.

Giving away assets or your income during your lifetime has potential inheritance tax and capital gains tax considerations.

Meanwhile, doing this can be determined by your local authority to be ‘deprivation of assets’. That means giving them away whilst you are alive to deliberately reduce the value of your estate. This matter is covered in the Care Act 2014.

The financial assessment will ask for assets you used to own, and there is no time limit on how far back your local authority will look into the past if it thinks you intentionally tried to avoid care fees. It can then include them in the assessment anyway.

If the assets in question have already been given away, this can cause a huge financial headache and legal advice should be sought.

Regarding the life property trust that I covered in my column last month, this type of trust does not normally give rise to such a situation because it is a gift from a will into trust, not during the life of the settlor, and is intended for the protection of the spouse and beneficiaries. However, this is no use in your circumstances.

In my view, you should see a solicitor who specialises in asset protection.

If there is a genuine current reason why you would set up a family trust arrangement to protect your home, which I understand is important to you, then this would need to be very carefully documented at the time.

However, there may be tax implications to consider as well and the effectiveness of this action cannot be guaranteed.

Professionals like accountants, financial advisers and lawyers often deal after the fact with people who have been persuaded to spend a lot of money (often exorbitant fees) setting up trusts which are not appropriate for their circumstances and don’t work.

Do bear in mind that your assets should give you the peace of mind that you will be able to pay for the care that you may need in the future.

This means you can have what you need, without financial worries, rather than having to accept whatever is supplied to you if you are not paying for it yourself.

These links may be helpful. The charity Age UK has more on deprivation of assets and income. The Law Society has a search tool to help you find an appropriate solicitor.