Memory loss in your later years can be difficult, emotionally as well as financially. That’s why having a conversation with your loved ones, or devising a plan early on, could broaden your options and at the same time, help ensure your wishes are met should things take an unexpected turn. While you may be thinking ‘she’ll be right,’ taking steps toward simplifying your finances while you have your wits about you could benefit you, as well as those that care for you most.
While forgetfulness can be common among older adults, it’s not always cause for concern.
In saying that, the number of Australians living with dementia—something that typically involves progressive memory loss and the inability to perform everyday tasks—is on the rise. According to Alzheimer’s Australia:
- Three in 10 Australians over age 85 and almost one in 10 over age 65 have dementia
- Around 1.2 million people nationwide are involved in the care of a person with dementia.
Tips for covering your bases
If it’s something you’ve been thinking about, here are some tips to make sure your bases are covered, and to help eliminate personal and financial risks.
- Simplify your finances
- Consider consolidating accounts, credit cards and super funds so you have less to manage.
- Diarise the regular bills that come in and when they’re due so that they’re accounted for.
- Think about whether setting up direct debits could take a load off.
- Sort out your important documents
To make things easier for the person who’ll make decisions if you’re unable to, you may want to set up a file of your personal and financial information, and keep a copy in a safe location, such as with your solicitor. These documents may include:
- Personal records—birth certificate, marriage certificate, and will
- Tax file number, Centrelink and Medicare details
- Bank and super fund information
- Insurance policies
- A list of your assets and debts
- Investment-related information
- Details of your funeral wishes
- Make sure your will is up to date and nominate an executor
It’s important you keep your will updated, as it’s a legal document that covers what you’d like to happen with your assets, and potentially your funeral later on. The contents of a will could raise controversy among family members, so it’s good to iron out any issues early on.
If you have nominated an executor to carry out the wishes in your will, let your family know and make sure this person agrees, knows their duties and where your will and other important documents are kept.
- Appoint an enduring power of attorney
This person will make legal and financial decisions for you, if you can’t. It’s very important to choose someone you trust, as they’ll be responsible for looking after your bank accounts, ongoing bills, and even selling your house if you need to move into a care facility.
- Confirm your super beneficiaries are current
Some people assume that how and in what proportions you want your super distributed can be included in your will. This isn’t necessarily the case, unless you’ve specified the necessary arrangements with your super fund beforehand, so you’ll need to make sure your beneficiaries are up to date and in order.
- Determine your wishes around aged care
You may not require aged care, but in case you do, expressing your wishes may help those around you in determining the best course of action. The My Aged Care website (www.myagedcare.gov.au) provides more information.