Money Advice Service

If you’re working out how to pay for long-term care – for yourself or a loved one, an independent care fees adviser can offer unbiased expert advice. Find out more about what they can do for you, how they are paid and how to choose one that’s right for you.

The role of an independent financial adviser

There are independent financial advisers that focus specifically on care funding advice, often referred to as specialist care fees advisers. They are regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) and must stick to a code of conduct and ethics and take responsibility for the suitability of any product they recommend.

Unlike advisers who are tied to particular providers, specialist care fees advisers can offer advice on products from across the whole market.

Specialist care fees advisers have particular qualifications (CF8, CeLTCI) that demonstrate their understanding of the many issues you might have to consider when it comes to funding long-term care.

A specialist care fees adviser will go through a fact-finding process with you to assess and understand your needs and circumstances.

This will include questions about:

  • Your marital status
  • Your property ownership
  • Your attitude towards risk
  • The location of family and friends
  • The level of your care needs and the attitude of your family
  • Your health
  • Current income (including unearned income) and benefits
  • What State support you might be entitled to
  • The care that’s currently available and what care will be required in the future
  • The potential cost of care at home or the care home you’ve chosen
  • Your assets, in particular shares or other investments liable for Capital Gains Tax
  • Liabilities that could reduce the value of your assets or your estate
  • Your mental capacity and making provisions for decision making

They’ll then make recommendations about financial products and services that are suitable for you, which they’ll put in writing.

Why might you need a specialist care fees adviser?

Did you know?

A survey of Which? members showed that more than a third of people self-funding their care were worried about running out of money.

You’re not obliged to get professional advice when choosing how to finance your long-term care, but in most cases it’s crucial to do so.

A specialist care fees adviser should help you find a means of funding your long-term care that is:

  • Suitable for your needs
  • Affordable both now and in the future
  • Compatible with your attitude to risk and your financial priorities

Some self-financing options are quite straightforward, while others are much more complicated.

A specialist care fees adviser will help you to compare all your options before deciding which one’s right for you.

They’ll also be able to explain all the costs and risks involved with each product.

They should be able to help with other things too, like arranging your will or a power of attorney and advising you on benefits and State support available from the NHS or local authority to help with your care costs.

Your rights when you get advice

If you do take advice and later find that the product wasn’t suitable for your circumstances (for example, you were sold an investment bond with early withdrawal penalties when you were likely to need access to your money in the near future), you could have a case for mis-selling and receive compensation.

Every specialist care fees adviser will have a formal complaints procedure (you’ll probably find it in their Terms of Business when you first sign up with them) but ultimately, you’ll also have the right to make a complaint to the Financial Ombudsman Service.

What will it cost?

The fees of an independent financial adviser can vary widely depending on where you live, the complexity of your situation, and the level of advice and types of products they recommend.

In some cases you could pay between £75 and £250 an hour for their services, so it’s important to make sure you ask up-front how much their advice is going to cost, and whether it’s a fixed fee, or based on the time they spend working for you.

You could ask your adviser about splitting their fee into instalments, or paying an hourly fee at the end of each consultation.

Financial advisers have to be clear about the type of advice they give you and follow new rules on how they charge.

They also have to make it clear whether the advice they are providing is independent.

Where to find a specialist care fees adviser

Search for an adviser in your area who is qualified to offer independent advice on all the financial products and services you’re interested in, and who specialises in self-financing long-term care.

You can use The Money Advice Service Retirement Adviser Directory to find a specialist care fees adviser in your area.

You can also visit the Society of Later Life Advisers (SOLLA) website. SOLLA advisers undertake extra training and professional development before becoming full members.

If you choose not to use a professional financial adviser, or if you simply want to explore your options before speaking to one, you’ll need to do your own thorough research.

Beware – if you don’t take financial advice and the product you choose turns out to be unsuitable, you might have fewer grounds for complaint or compensation.

This article is provided by the Money Advice Service.