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Help your parents with their finances

by anonymous

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AS PEOPLE live longer, caring for elderly parents is becoming an even bigger commitment for every adult child.            

There are the fun things such as visiting and enjoying your parents' company. Then there are the responsibilities, such as making sure your parents are financially secure and their affairs are in order.

Today's elderly haven't had the benefit of long-term compulsory superannuation and many are struggling to get by on the age pension. Others simply need a hand managing their money in an increasingly complicated society.

It's important you find out about your parents' finances before a crisis occurs. Many families are uncomfortable discussing financial matters, but it has to be done.


Don't phone your parents out of the blue and fire off a list of questions about their money. Sit down with them, show respect and tell them you have some questions you would like to ask about their finances.

Explain you simply want to check everything is in order and whether they need any help looking after their money.

No parent wants to face the problems of old age, and no parent wants to feel as though their children are putting them out to pasture. Try to personalise the conversation.

For example, explain how you've been getting the right documents in order to make sure your family is OK if something happened to you, and you're wondering what they have in place. Everyone can recall a story of a friend or relative where the dominant financial partner dies, leaving the surviving spouse with no idea of their financial situation. Make sure that doesn't happen to your mother or father.

Emphasise to your parents that your inquiries are not being made by a gold-digging child, but by a family concerned about caring for their parents in the best possible way.


If your parents are elderly and starting to forget information or lose track of things, ask to meet their bank manager. Make sure your parents organise the meeting and make the introductions. During the meeting ask to sign an authorisation, which allows the banker to talk to you about their accounts. This means the bank will be comfortable in keeping you up-to-date with your parents' accounts and can provide an early warning system if irregularities start to appear.

With privacy legislation the way it is these days, organise for you to have authorisation across all their finances, from credit cards and health insurance to club memberships.

Some parents may be reluctant to share financial information with grown children because they are scared of giving up their independence. But once parents have suffered a stroke or moved into the advanced stages of dementia, they may not be able to give you authority to act on their behalf. While you're looking into your parents' finances, check they're receiving the maximum government benefits they qualify for. Are they getting the age or veterans pension? Are they eligible for benefits such as rent assistance and allowances for things like pharmaceuticals, utilities and phone bills?

Find out if your parents have done a will and where it is located. Explain to them you don't want to know what's in it, you just want to check that they've done one.

Technology has also come to the rescue.

Get your parents to use "What if … workbook" (print out an ebook from or use one of the international websites on offer such as and other similar sites.


It's a good idea to appoint a power of attorney once you hit retirement age.

A power of attorney can be limited to a designated piece of real estate or it can cover all financial transactions.

Encourage your parents to nominate a trusted relative, friend or solicitor to take control of their finances when needed. Someone who can look after their affairs if they go away for an extended period or are incapacitated from a sudden illness. It's not a pleasant thought, but at the same time it must not be neglected.

Explain the importance of this document to your parents and explain how it can make things so much harder for all if they are unable to look after their finances.


Senior Australians can be too trusting and confused by technology, so remind them to:

• Never pass on bank details or passwords to anyone, particularly over the web or email.

• Beware of cyber crooks masquerading as your bank.

• Don't do business with anyone you don't know.

• Check with the family members before making unusual investments.

• Keep wills updated.


RESIDENTIAL property markets are showing some signs of life around the country, with auction clearance rates back at healthy levels and a marked lift in activity.

RESIDENTIAL property markets are showing some signs of life around the country, with auction clearance rates back at healthy levels and a marked lift in activity.

But while the signs are promising, the fundamentals of property always remain the same… demand and supply.

Last week some fascinating data emerged about the number of home units coming on to the market next year in inner Melbourne and Sydney - the supply.

It turns out there are more than 13,500 new home units in the pipeline and set to hit the Melbourne market next year.

By comparison, there are less than half that number of units now hitting the Sydney market.

At the moment the Sydney residential property market is the strongest in the country, mainly because of a tight supply of new properties.

Melbourne's property market is currently stable but weak in the inner suburbs because of an oversupply of properties.

These building figures are an early indicator that the short supply in Sydney is likely to continue, while the oversupply of homes in Melbourne looks set to get worse and continue to put downward pressure on property values.


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