Can you give me some advice on handling my late uncle's estate?
06 December 2021
Question by RB
Hi can you help. I'm handling my late uncle's estate and I've recently been made aware of a 'Deferred Payment Arrangement' with Newcastle city council amounting to approx £16k. I asked for a copy of the DPA but it's unsigned and I've also discovered that no legal charge was made by the council. The council have not formally asked for payment. A friend has told me that despite the DPA being unsigned and no legal charge has been made, I will still have to pay it, as there's been an 'implied contract'. Can you give me some advice on this?
Answered by Mary Green
Since 2015, all councils have offered deferred payment schemes, which means that rather than the costs being covered by the sale of the individual’s property, they can ask for a deferred payment agreement. The local authority will then place a legal charge on their property with the result that any shortfall between what they are assessed to pay and what they actually pay is effectively a loan secured against their property that becomes payable either when the property is sold or is taken from their estate on death. Interest will be charged on the loan, but the rates and terms differ depending on where they live in the UK. Councils only have to offer these if the total value of an individual's assets are below a certain amount. It is possible that your uncle had some NHS continuing healthcare support which is available when an individual is in nursing care rather than residential care, this would have been based on a care assessment by the council.
I suspect your uncle's estate would be liable for the £16,000 but it maybe worth asking for a copy of his care assessment and asking if he qualified for any support, this is also subject to a means test so it is fairly difficult to qualify, the care home may also be able to provide details of the costs and how much he paid/council paid. Finally I would say if you plan to contest the charge you would require legal advice.
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