What’s a Fair Deal if wife follows late husband into nursing home care?

Q&A: Dominic Coyle

“For peace of mind, I can reassure you that the Health Service Executive has confirmed that the maximum it will take from the value of your property is 22.5 per cent.” File photograph: iStockPhoto

“For peace of mind, I can reassure you that the Health Service Executive has confirmed that the maximum it will take from the value of your property is 22.5 per cent.” File photograph: iStockPhoto

 

If a husband goes into care leaving his wife in the family home, the Fair Deal scheme charges 3.75 per cent on the property for the first three years.

If the husband passes away in year four and the wife subsequently goes into care, does the State take the original 11.25 per cent plus an additional 22.5 per cent of the property value?

Ms M.A., email

Sorting out affairs as you prepare to enter a nursing home can be a fraught affair. And the rules of the Fair Deal scheme, for all its undoubted virtues, can sometimes take some working through.

For peace of mind, I can reassure you that the Health Service Executive has confirmed that the maximum it will take from the value of your property is 22.5 per cent.

There is no intention to take 22.5 per cent of the value for your care given that you are now the sole owner of the property where they have already taken 11.25 per cent of its value in respect of your former husband.

That maximum is set down in the Nursing Homes Support Scheme Act 2009, so it is not something that is open to debate. As always, people or their carers are advised to ensure paperwork and bills are correct, as mistakes can always arise inadvertently.

But the HSE assures me that no question of an assessment arising for 7.5 per cent a year from the value of your home against the cost of your care arising, nor any attempt to levy a total charge of 33.75 per cent of the value of your home. They will already have a record of your husband’s care and the charge applying in respect of him.

For those cases where one partner entered Fair Deal under the old threshold of 15 per cent that applied up to July 25th, 2013, and the second applies under the new, higher 22.5 per cent threshold, the maximum that can be taken from the value of your home for your care is 18.75 per cent of its value.

Another important thing to note is that the valuation date for the purposes of assessing the value of the property from which the 22.5 per cent will be taken is the date you apply for the scheme, not the date your husband initially applied.

The surviving spouse or partner is the reference point for the valuation under the legislation.

Please send your queries to Dominic Coyle, Q&A, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2, or email dcoyle@irishtimes.com. This column is a reader service and is not intended to replace professional advice.

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