LAWLINK – Can I be a full-time carer to my parents while working part-time?

woman standing next to woman riding wheelchair
Photo: Dominik Lange/Unsplash

Q: I live at home, having moved back from the US a few years ago. My mum and dad are in their 80s, and it’s likely they are both going to require nursing home care in the next few years. I’m an only child, and both my parents have shown me copies of their wills, showing that the house and their effects will come to me. Dad is thinking about transferring the property to me now on the basis that I will be their full-time carer. I’m working part time, but don’t know if I’d be able to be a full-time carer. Can you give me any advice?

Dear Reader,

Situations such as this are always difficult. You obviously want to look after your parents, but equally do not want to take steps now that might impact you in promising to care for your parents.

The first thing to consider is, of course, their health needs. If they are likely to be complex, and therefore outside the level of care that you might be able to provide, then perhaps it is best if all parties are aware of and note the situation. This may impact your parents’ desire to transfer the home now, or it may not, but it would be important that all parties are on the same page.

You and your parents should have separate legal representation. Often transfers of a family home like this include a ‘Rights of Residence’ – that is, that the home is transferred to you subject to you providing residence and care to your parents.

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Your parents also need to think about potential future costs. If the home were transferred now, they may well be left without an asset base for future private medical care.

While your parents do not need to own a home to take advantage of the Nursing Home Support Scheme, it would have an impact on the level of care available to them or the amount of their regular income that might go towards such nursing home care. If they need such care within the next five years, then the home could still be classed as an asset of theirs.

There may also be substantial tax implications, both when it comes to Capital Acquisitions Tax for you, and potentially Capital Gains Tax for your parents (although as their family home, this is perhaps unlikely).

While every situation is different, this is not a situation you want to enter into lightly, or without fully considering matters and having all the facts at your disposal.

I would suggest that you consult with your solicitor and financial advisor and your parents separately consult their solicitor and financial advisor and as stated above independent legal advice is required.