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Weigh Up the Alternatives First – Equity Release Isn’t Always the Answer to Funding Long Term Care Costs

Thursday, January 1st, 2015

Long Term Care SolutionsWith long term care becoming increasingly topical, Equity Release Supermarket are encountering many enquiries where children & attorneys are considering equity release as a possible solution to solving this ageing dilemma. However, as a company we do not automatically assume that equity release is the only answer; there are more alternatives.

 

It is therefore always advisable to seek long term care advice from a specialist who can advise on all aspects of retirement planning to ensure all avenues are explored. This would include claiming any state benefits due, retirement annuities, care fees plans & equity release schemes.

 

The following live case study illustrates how one of my clients was in such a situation & was looking to release equity from their main residence. It explains how I researched & recommended the best long term care plan for their particular needs after exploring & discussing with them all possible solutions…

 

Case Background

I was contacted by a lady whose father – Peter was suffering from Alzheimers disease. Her mother Mary, who was in her 80’s, lived in the bungalow that they jointly owned, but because she suffered from mobility problems, she was unable to care for Peter. She had reluctantly made the difficult decision that Peter would be better cared for in a specialist Care Home.

 

Funding Long Term Care Shortfalls

At the time I spoke to Mary and her daughter, Peter had been living in a very nice Care Home for two years and was settled there. He was aged 86 and the fees for his care were £40,904 per year, the amount of his income that could be used to help fund this cost was £13,345 per year.

The shortfall between Peter’s income and the cost of his care therefore amounted to £27,559 and this shortfall was being paid from the capital that Peter and Mary had in their savings. At the time I spoke with the family, their savings totalled £135,000.

 

Although this amount would seem to be sufficient to fund the present shortfall in the cost of Peters care for nearly another five years, anything that Mary might need outside her normal day to day expenditure would also have to come out of it. This therefore left them in a financial dilemma that needed considering now, before the situation worsened & a long term care plan of action was to be put in place immediately.

 

The bungalow, for instance, badly needed decorating and Mary had not had a holiday for nearly five years. There was also the fact that Long Term Care Fees normally increase by between 3% and 5% per year. All of this needed to be met from this capital and Mary had started to worry that all their capital would be used up very soon, this worry was beginning to affect her health since she was not sleeping very well.

 

Is Equity Release the Solution?

Mary and her daughter had initially thought that taking out an equity release plan may be the only option open to them and this was when they contacted me for advice. They felt that by releasing equity from the property now, instead of using the savings would help preserve the capital into the future. However, after discussing the effect of roll-up interest & the fact that other retirement solutions existed they were prepared to sit down with me & conduct a thorough factfind exercise so I could fully analyse their situation.

 

Benefits of Seeking Independent Long Term Care Advice

Being a SOLLA accredited independent equity release adviser, I have the benefit of being FCA authorised to specialise in long term care, equity release plans, investments & annuities. Whereas many equity release advisers can only provide advice on equity release, whenever ANY advice is being given with regards to using it to solve long term care planning, it should always be referred to a long term care specialist such as myself who has be trained to provide guidance on such matters. We can consider ALL options available, not just equity release which may not always be the best solution.

 

The Long Term Care Solutions

After making an assessment of their situation I looked at the options that were available to them.

 

  1. The first option we looked at was to continue to meet the shortfall from the savings of £135,000. This meant that after annual increases in the cost of Peters care and looking after any needs that Mary might have, such as decorating and holidays, the capital would probably last for about another three or four years. After this period they would be reliant on Local Authority funding. Because the cost of the Care Home that Peter was in was more expensive than the Local Authority funding level, this may have meant Peter moving to a cheaper Care Home. Because he was settled and happy where he was, and the family was happy with the care he was receiving, they did not want this to happen.
  1. The second option was to look at investing the capital in order to obtain an income from the return. An optimistic return on the capital would be about 4% and this would provide an income of £5,400 per year. This would obviously not meet the shortfall of £27,559 and not entirely solve the long term care cost shortfall.
  1. The third option was to purchase a ‘Care Fees Plan’, otherwise known as an Immediate Needs Annuity. After obtaining the necessary medical reports from Peters Care Home and his GP, we received illustrations of the cost of these plans from the relevant providers. By investing a capital sum with the annuity provider, they would then provide a lifetime income payable to either the planholder or care home to cover care fees due.

 

The results were very pleasing. For a lump sum premium of £106,000 a Care Fees Plan could be purchased that would provide Peter with an income of £27,599 per annum for the rest of his life. The income would also rise by 5% each year in order to help cover any increases in the cost of his care. Instead of the income being paid to Peter so his Attorney could then pay his Long Term Care Fees, it was arranged to be paid directly to the Care Home. Arranged in this way, it gave the added bonus that the income would be paid tax free, thereby going further towards meeting the care costs payable.

 

The outcome of funding the cost of Peters care in this way meant that:

  • The cost of Peters care would be met for the rest of his life, regardless of how long that was.
  • The income of £27,599 would increase by 5% compound each year.
  • £29,000 of their capital had been protected for Marys benefit.
  • It had safeguarded the family home to be passed to their daughter.
  • The family had been provided with peace of mind.
  • Equity release is still an option if necessary in the future should circumstances dictate.

 

If you wish to discuss any aspects of this case study or need long term care advice from a SOLLA accredited adviser, please either email me – peter@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk or telephone 07828 179707. I look forward to hearing from you.

Are Mortgages Available in Retirement & What Income Is Acceptable To Lenders?

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

It is becoming more common for people reaching state retirement age to still have a mortgage running into retirement.

Even more so, there is a growing demand for extra mortgage lending once they are in retirement.

Here we discuss what retirement mortgage options are available, acceptable income sources & where to look for independent advice on these matters.

 

There can be many reasons for having a mortgage beyond state retirement age; namely poor performing low cost endowments, previous unemployment or even long term health issues.

A mortgage that runs into retirement can have major issues with both affordability & term to its repayment date. Most lenders will require repayment on a mortgage by age 75.

We will now look at ensuring all available income is being claimed. Once researched, we can then discuss which of these are eligible for inclusion in mortgage affordability calculations.

 

 

So what options are available on reaching retirement itself?

Well this will depend on affordability & how the financial management of the mortgage itself can continue. The main issue with regards to affordability of an interest only mortgage at retirement is how much retirement provision has been made & maximising any other available sources of income.

 

 

What Type of Retirement Incomes Should I be Receiving?

Having reached state retirement age the state pension will become available. However, the level of this is dependent upon national insurance contributions paid over one’s working life. The current basic state pension is £97.65pw & on its own would not be sufficient to support an interest only mortgage payment alone. State Earnings Related Pension Scheme (SERPS) & any entitlement to the graduated state pension can possibly boost the state pension somewhat, but not substantially.

State pensions are a source of income that can be utilised towards a mortgage in retirement.

Company pension scheme members can benefit greatly with additional pension income that could be index-linked yearly & be calculated dependent upon the number of year’s service.

There is also evidence that personal pension plans can also boosting retirement income. Increasing importance is being placed in this area on seeking independent financial advice. Due to falling annuity rates it is more important to shop around & optimise your pension fund. Annuity providers can now enhance your pension income if poor health issues exist.

Both company & personal pensions are a source of income that can be utilised towards a mortgage in retirement.

 

 

With the recent economic downturn we have unfortunately seen the reduction in bank & building society interest rates. This has affected investors, once reliant on good interest payments, which would supplement their lifestyle. Again ensure you shop around to obtain a higher interest with your savings is more important than ever. Tax payers should make use of their annual cash ISA allowance of £5100 & non-taxpayers should ensure that Inland Revenue form ‘R85′ is completed in order they can obtain their interest paid gross.

Savings interest can be a source of income that can be utilised towards a mortgage in retirement.

It is also important to check whether any means tested benefits are available from the Department of Work & Pensions.  Dependent upon age there may be eligibility for certain benefits such as pension credit & savings pension credit.

 

Income levels below £132.60pw for a single person & £202.40pw (2010-2011) jointly could allow a claim for pension credit to be made. Also, check any entitlement to council tax benefit availability, which even though it cannot help mortgage payments directly, it can lower the monthly outgoings.

If there are disability issues then depending on the condition, disability living allowance (DLA), attendance or even carers allowance may be available.

Lenders have different rules on means tested benefits – to see which qualify for a mortgage in retirement contact Equity Release Supermarket on 0800 678 5159

 

Maintaining employment through or into retirement does obviously alleviate some of the financial issues. However, experience has shown that there are difficulties in gaining employment.

Nevertheless, it is increasingly apparent that people are now looking to continue working into retirement & provide extra cash to support retirement lifestyle. If part time work can be found then it can not only assist the budget, but also the soul. People in retirement are feeling & looking younger & with more activity in retirement their average life expectancy is rising as social constraints are removed.

Employment income will only help people with existing mortgages going into retirement, but not anyone trying to obtain a mortgage in retirement. Lenders will only accept employment income if a new mortgage is to be repaid before state retirement age.

Secondary investment properties can provide a form of rental income which can be used towards paying a mortgage in retirement. However, if any existing buy to let mortgage is in operation this will need to be declared & considered as part of the application.

As long as a tenancy agreement is in existence then this will be considered by the lender.

 

Although not a specific means of retirement income, equity release schemes can also be considered a means of retirement support. The flexibility of drawdown equity release schemes now incorporates the use of drawdown facilities which are essential in supplementing a flexible lifestyle.

These drawdown equity release schemes provide an initial tax free capital lump sum, with an additional reserve facility that can be gradually withdrawn over future years.

Equity release lenders such as Just Retirement permit additional withdrawals in small amounts of £2,000 a time, which helps retirement planning & provides financial security for the future.

 

Another method of providing income from equity release is through a Home Income Plan. These equity release plans involve a combination of two products; a Home Reversion scheme & a lifetime annuity. The home reversion company purchases a percentage of the property in return for a tax free cash lump sum. The lump sum can then used to purchase the annuity which can then generate the lifetime pension income required.

Both these equity release schemes will not assist in obtaining a mortgage in retirement. However, in their own right they can provide alternative capital or income in retirement with no monthly payments.

As you can see there are various income sources which mortgage lenders can consider.

 

With recent restriction on lending criteria, it is more important than ever to obtain independent financial advice on this specialist area of retirement mortgage finance.

For further information & advice on mortgages in retirement, please click here for details of interest only mortgages currently available.

Alternatively please contact Mark Gregory on 0800 678 5159 or email mark@equityreleasesupermarket.co.uk

 

 
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