How to choose the right people to help protect your financial assets
To reduce your vulnerability to elderly financial abuse, it’s important to have a strong support team around you that you can rely on and trust. These are the people who will help you make decisions about your money, so you need to make sure they have the right skills and qualities to manage your financial affairs and plan for your future. Your support team should come from a range of professions and backgrounds – and remember, family members don’t necessarily know best just because they’re related to you.
It’s also essential that you keep written records of any agreements you have with your team, including family, and assess these personal and professional relationships every year to check whether they’re still the right person for the job.
Who should be on your support team?
- Assess your health through regular check ups
- Determine your capacity to manage your financial affairs
- Help decide when a Power of Attorney takes over
- Lawyers and community legal centres
- Help draft your Will and create a Power of Attorney
- Formalise family agreements
- Prevent financial abuse or unintentional harm
- Help with tax, business and property arrangements
- Keep track of your everyday spending
- Detect unusual or suspicious transactions
- Financial advisers
- Help with planning for your retirement
- Tailor your investments to match your appetite for risk
- Structure your personal and business finances
- Bank staff
- Assist in managing your everyday finances
- Arrange an ‘authority to operate’ on your accounts
- Investigate any suspicious transactions
- Family members
- Help with financial, legal and health-related matters
- Provide ongoing emotional support
- Discuss your options and advise on decisions
- Could be a family member, a friend, or someone you hire to take care of you
- Responsible for your health, safety and wellbeing
- May assist with financial matters
Choosing a ‘Power of Attorney’
A Power of Attorney is a legal document that allows you to appoint someone to make decisions about property or financial matters for you. The main factor determining when someone uses this authority is a decline in your mental health. But there are other reasons you might need a Power of Attorney – for example, if you’re injured, in hospital, living in a remote area
or travelling in a foreign country. There are two types of Power of Attorney:
- General Power of Attorney:
- GPOA is only effective while you have the capacity to make and communicate decisions for yourself.
- It allows your Attorney to act for you in financial and legal matters – such as managing property and shares, operating your bank accounts, spending money or making gifts.
- You choose when and for how long this power lasts – so it can be useful if you need someone to act on your behalf for a specific period of time.
- Enduring Power of Attorney:
- EPOA allows your Attorney to make financial decisions on your behalf if your capacity to make decisions is lost or diminished. You can set limits and decide when it comes into effect.
- Choosing your EPOA is an important decision about what happens to your financial affairs if your health deteriorates.
- Because the role has significant authority, it’s best to choose carefully – and speak to a financial adviser about how to protect yourself.
Power of Attorney checklist
- Start thinking about your Power of Attorney while you’re in good health and have plenty of time to prepare.
- Choose a Power of Attorney who has financial sense and knowledge, time to assist you, integrity and courage to stand up for your rights, and a thorough understanding of their role. This does not have to be a family member.
- Set up Power of Attorney with the help of a lawyer or State Trustee to ensure that you follow correct processes.
- Be specific and detailed about the powers you’re assigning to your Attorney.
- To reduce risk, consider granting authority for a fixed period of time only, assigning authority to multiple people, or setting limits on transactions.
- Regularly review your Power of Attorney and if you make changes, tell your bank and anyone else who has a copy as soon as possible.