Got £180,000 lying around? You may need it for care fees

Could you come up with £180,000 to fund the care of an elderly parent or spouse?

No, not many of us could put our hands on that kind of sum easily. Selling property might be our only solution, and that’s an unsatisfactory move for all concerned.

Yet that is the amount it has been calculated that long-term care could cost for an elderly person in the South East if they live more than four years.

Ah, you may say, but what about the Dilnot Report? Commissioned by the Government and published in the summer, it recommended capping lifetime contributions to social care costs to £35,000.

It also suggested people should contribute no more than £10,000 a year to their food and accommodation costs whilst in residential care.

Well those proposals won’t come into force until 2013 if at all, and if the calculations of some analysts are to be believed, some of those needing long-term care could still face that £180,000 bill.

So what are families who want the best care for their loved ones to do? The sensible answer is to start planning, saving and looking for inventive ways to raise that money as soon as possible.

A qualified, independent financial adviser will be able to suggest strategies families may not have thought of, such as an equity release mortgage that gives them access to funds without selling the family home.

My advice would be not to panic, but to arrange to talk through all your options with an expert.