Memory loss can make it difficult to stay in control of your money. Things like checking bank statements or investments, or paying bills may become challenging.
If you're starting to struggle, it's time to put some safeguards in place. A few simple steps will help you and your loved ones protect your money and prepare for the future.
It can be confronting to think about what may happen when you can no longer manage your own money. But it's important to start planning.
Making a plan is the best way to have a say in things that will affect you. It also helps your loved ones if they have to make decisions for you in the future.
Dementia Australia has worksheets and information to help you plan, if you have signs of memory loss or dementia.
Appoint an enduring power of attorney
An enduring power of attorney lets you choose someone to make financial and legal decisions for you if you can't make them yourself.
It's important to choose someone you trust and who will act in your best interests. They will be looking after your bank account, paying your bills, and even selling your house if you need to move into aged care.
This person could be your partner, child, another relative or friend. Or it could be an independent person, such as the Public Trustee or your solicitor. You can appoint two people, but you need to be confident they will agree on your best interests.
No matter who you appoint, discuss it with your family so they know and understand your wishes.
Update your will
Take the time to review your will and make sure it's up-to-date. If you don't already have a will, it's important to make one.
To make a valid will, you need to understand the decisions you make and the effect of those decisions. Being diagnosed with dementia doesn't necessarily mean you've lost the ability to do this. But, if you're concerned about memory loss, it's better to make or update your will now.
Keep your will in a safe place and tell someone you trust where it's kept.
Get your super in order
To make sure your super goes to the right people (beneficiaries) when you die, you need a binding nomination. You do this through your super fund — not through your will.
If you don't nominate anyone, the super fund trustee will decide who your money goes to.
Or, you can nominate your estate as the beneficiary. This means your super becomes part of your estate and is paid out according to your will.
If you have more than one super fund, think about consolidating them. It's easy to do and will make it easier to manage in the future.
If you have a self-managed super fund (SMSF), consider:
- changing to a simpler, professionally managed fund
- nominating someone you trust to take over your trustee role as your legal personal representative
Running an SMSF is complex. There may be serious financial consequences if you can no longer manage it properly.
Sort out your important documents
To make things easier — for you and your power of attorney — put your personal and financial information in one file. Keep duplicates in a safe place, such as a safe deposit box with your bank, or with your solicitor.
The important documents to include are:
- birth certificate
- marriage certificate
- enduring power of attorney or guardian details
- Tax File Number
- Centrelink Customer Reference Number or Department of Veterans' Affairs file number
- list of your assets
- house deeds
- home and contents insurance
- deeds and insurance policies for any other real estate you own
- mortgage documents
- bank account details
- list of direct debits
- superannuation papers
- documents related to loans
- investment documents (securities, share certificates, bonds)
- prepaid funeral plans
- advance care directive (also called a living will)
- Medicare card
- medical or life insurance details
- details of your My Health Record
- pensioner concession card
Protect yourself from financial abuse
Older people can be more vulnerable to financial abuse. This is because they often depend on others for help with financial tasks and decisions. If you have memory loss or dementia, the risk is even higher.
It's important that your friends and family don't pressure you or try to influence your financial decisions.
See financial abuse for the signs to watch out for and where you can get help.