Caring for somebody you live with

young woman hugging senior mother when visiting her

Whether you're already sharing your home with somebody that you care for, or it's a step you're likely to find yourself taking soon, it's important to be aware of the legal, financial and practical implications it can have.

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Good idea?
There are plenty of really good reasons to live with somebody you care for: having more time together, knowing they are safe and the convenience of not having to travel to care for them.
Many people are caring for family members - but while blood is certainly thicker than water, long-standing grudges and resentments are likely to re-surface if living under the same roof.
Of course living together could strengthen bonds and bring you closer together – but look honestly at how relations have been in the past and consider whether things are likely to become more difficult.

Things to consider
Consider how the practical day-to-day living arrangements will work, for example, do they use a wheelchair and is your home suitable? Will it need adapting? Is there space? Will they have enough privacy? Can you commit to long-term care? Also think about what's really in the best interests of the individual concerned – and make sure the decision isn't just being made for the convenience of others.

Financial implications
If you share your home with somebody you care for and they make a financial contribution towards their keep – then there are implications you need to be aware of.

It is possible to get Council Tax exemption as a carer – though the person you are caring for must be "severely mentally impaired". This could be a result of Alzheimer's disease, having had a stroke or having severe learning difficulties. Proof from a registered medical practitioner will be required, but claims can be backdated as far as 1993 if necessary.

There is also the Carer's Allowance – an earnings replacement benefit available to those spending at least 35 hours a week caring for somebody. There are further stipulations attached, but it comprises £61.35 a week, plus a one-off £10 Christmas bonus. If you're moving in with the person you care for, there may be implications for existing benefits too. You'll need to tell your local council if you're currently claiming Housing Benefit, for example.

Legal implications
If the person you are living with gives their home to you, then there are some very specific legal implications to consider. If they pass away within seven years then it is still considered part of their estate – with the Inheritance Tax threshold currently set at £325,000 (2015/2016) for the total value of the person's estate.

Similar rules apply if part of a home has been given away, or if a home is given away "with reservation of benefit" - which often means that the giver will continue to live in it and be cared for. Alternatively a home can be given away and then a fair market rent be paid to continue to live in it.

Getting extra help
Most carers have the right to an assessment of their needs – with social services potentially able to help out in some cases. Voluntary organisations and other family members may be able to help out – and funds may be available from the local authority if adaptations do need to be made to the home.

Do you care for someone at home? Leave a comment below...

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