Deprivation of Assets & Paying For Care: What You Need To Know

sarah ryan
Sarah RyanAccount Manager @ Lawhive & Non-Practising Solicitor
Updated on 25th October 2023

Imagine you or your family members are getting older, and you might need to live in a care home someday. But care homes can be pretty expensive, and you worry that the fees will eat up all of your money, leaving nothing behind for those you love.

It’s a common concern, which is why you need to know about "deprivation of assets,” which basically means a person has given away their money, property or other assets on purpose to avoid paying for care home fees.


The government has rules to stop people from doing this. Understanding these rules is super important to help you make smart choices about your future without getting into trouble.

In this article, we'll break down:

  • What deprivation of assets means;

  • What counts as deliberate deprivation of assets;

  • What is not considered deliberate deprivation of assets

  • Time limits for deprivation of assets;

  • Deprivation of assets as a criminal offence;

  • Potential consequences of deliberate deprivation of assets.

What is deprivation of assets?

Deprivation of assets means a person has deliberately tried to reduce their assets to avoid paying certain charges or to reduce the amount they have to pay for their care.

If the council decides you need care and support, they'll look at your assets to figure out how much you should contribute to your care costs. This is called a "financial assessment" or "means test."

In this assessment they look at:

  1. Income:

  2. Savings and Investments:

  3. Property Value:

The rules around this financial assessment can be different in England, Scotland, and Wales. But generally, the amount you'll pay depends on your situation, where you live, and whether you need care at home or in a care home.

What counts as deliberate deprivation of assets?

Deliberate deprivation of assets is when someone purposely - and sometimes very quickly - gets rid of money and possessions to dodge paying for care when they know they’ll need it.

Here are some instances that might count as deliberate deprivation of assets:

  • Gifting money to or paying large sums of money to family members;

  • Spending a lot of money in a way that’s out of character, like gambling or buying high ticket luxury items;

  • Transferring the ownership of a house or other property to someone else (known as a Deed of Gift);

  • Selling things for way less than they’re worth;

  • Deliberately hiding money or assets

While it’s not illegal to do any of the above, the rules surrounding deprivation of assets are in place to ensure that those who can afford to contribute to their care costs do so. Therefore, deprivation of asset rules may apply when you ask a local authority to help with costs of care, such as a care home.

When the council looks into this, they’ll look at why and when a person did these things use their judgement to consider the reasons for it. If they think it was done when a person knew they’d need care soon and they wanted to avoid paying for it, that’s when it might count as deliberate deprivation of assets.

What is not considered deliberate deprivation of assets?

It is common for there to be legal and valid reasons for you to reduce your assets at any time in your life, such as making lump-sum payments to family members as a gift or transferring the ownership of your property.

When the council does their assessments, they might look into cases where someone is accused of deliberate deprivation of assets. But these accusations might not always be correct, and there could be a good reason why a person acted the way they did.

In short, there’s no one-size fits all situation. Factors they may consider include how long ago a gift was given or a transfer happened, why a gift or transfer was made and if the receiver needed it, the intentions of the person giving and if it was a one time thing or part of a pattern.

Is there a time limit on deprivation of assets?

Despite rumours of 6 month and 7 year rules in terms of gifts and transfer of property, when it comes to the council checking if you've tried to hide your assets, they don't have a set time limit. They can go way back to look at your finances to see if you've given away your assets to avoid care costs.

So, if you say you don't have something anymore, you might have to show proof to the council. However, each case is considered individually.

The 6 month rule only applies to the Local Authority's power to recover assets or money from recipients in order to pay for care fees.

Is deprivation of assets a criminal offence?

The deliberate deprivation of assets is a criminal office. Deliberately depriving yourself of assets to avoid care home fees can have serious consequences.

What happens if the local authority decides there has been a deprivation

If a local authority finds that a deliberate deprivation of assets has occurred they can:

  1. Act as the person still has the asset. This is generally what happens with small deprivations. Any financial assessments will include the assets or money, despite the fact they have been gifted or transferred.

  2. Reclaim the cost of care from recipients of gifts. This can happen if a transfer took place within six months of a person needing care.

  3. Recover money through the courts using the Insolvency Act. While this is rare, it is still possible.

Challenging a decision on deprivation of assets

An individual can challenge a decision on deprivation of assets made by the local authority.

To do this, they can challenge the decision through the council's formal complaints procedure. For matters such as this, it may be wise to seek the help of a specialist money, tax and debt solicitor to understand your options fully.

Deprivation of assets is complex, and facing a deprivation of assets claim can be daunting. If you are in this situation or want to plan ahead to avoid potential issues, it's crucial to seek legal advice from a solicitor experienced in this area.

At Lawhive, our team of consultant solicitors is here to help you quickly and affordably find a resolution to your legal matter. We understand the intricacies of deprivation of assets and can guide you through the process, ensuring you make informed decisions that protect your assets while staying within the bounds of the law.

Don't hesitate to reach out to us for expert legal advice tailored to your unique situation.

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