2020 - Ouch!
A slap in the face is more effective than ten lectures. It makes you understand very quickly. Leopold von Sacher-Masoch
Some financial knowledge comes easily, some is learned through sweat and some lessons must be a slap-in-the-face before they finally come home.
So here's my take on 2020
2020 has brought more than its fair share of the slap-in-the-face variety. Whether as a landlord, or holiday let operator, we have found ourselves cast adrift in a marketplace with little appetite. The natural instinct of the entrepreneur is to trade oneself out of difficulty or innovate to beat the prevailing market. This instinct has been sorely tested in the last few months and, like many others, I have found myself queueing for Government hand-outs to keep staff employed and carefully constructed business systems intact.
I have been absent from my blog because (as nature abhors a vacuum) my elderly mum (only 76) has moved in to my annexe to suck up any time that may have been spared by the absence of a viable business. In September it became apparent that she wasn't coping so we invited her 'for a holiday' from which she will never return home. From September, huge efforts have been made to care for her, clear her hoarder's paradise of a house and get some medical help. This week (yes, that's 13 weeks) we got a diagnosis, her brain is shrinking but there is nothing that can be done...
Mum has lost capacity to navigate between rooms, recognise essentials such as food, recognise a toilet or whether people in magazines are real or images. She spends most of the day in a delusional or hallucinatory state with moments of lucidity. She is physically OK and not challenging so, apparently, her needs are purely 'social care' and, as such, she will receive no financial assistance whatsoever until her needs are of the medical variety (roughly identified as not being able to lift a spoon to your mouth, swallow or breathe unaided or to be so unpleasant that you are identified as having Mental Health Needs). Mum has spent most of her life scrimping to be able to afford to stay in her own house and free of government help so I have joined the ranks of the angry relatives appalled at the injustices of Adult Social Care. I have paced the length and breadth of care fee avoidance strategies only to find that it is too late, too late…and this is where today's lesson lies. If you own your home, a second home or a range of properties (this is the PDPLA after all) in your own name you WILL have to pay for your care unless you take steps to distance yourself from your wealth. Perhaps you are OK with this, perhaps not. I can only say that the reality of the situation is a bit sharp.
Having property will not serve me into my old age, it is apparent that it is meaningless beyond the basics of housing, food and warmth as, without loved ones to care for her, my mum would have perished alone while trying to eat a tablemat in cold and inappropriate housing. Without Lasting Power of Attorney an unknown Social Worker would have all the decision making regarding health, welfare and finances, a life lived free of the State would have become a life controlled by the State. So resolve in 2021 to organise just a few small steps to prepare for your declining years, you never know when they may come upon you.