In many families, money is often a taboo subject and ends with our parents teaching and lecturing us on how to save, budget and manage money. However there are a few conversations you must have with your parents later in life and before it is too late.
Who manages their money if they cannot?
Asking this question often triggers your parents to think about this as well as a lot of people don’t have an enduring power of attorney in place. This dictates who can lawfully handle your finances and financial decisions if you are unable to do so. This role is often given to children, however in the interest of being fair, parents often list all their children to act together. You should, as a family, discuss the logistics of this. Consider issues of siblings living overseas who may not be available to sign documents when you need them.
Who advises them?
Who is their accountant, lawyer and/or advisor? This gives you a good starting point if anything goes wrong with your parents and you need help with their finances. These people are not only a great source of information and assistance but you may need them to access documents, lodge tax returns and so forth if you take over their finances.
Where are their important documents?
Do they keep their wills, deeds to the house and other important information at home in a safe, at the bank or with the lawyer/advisors office? Knowing where to locate these documents is important.
Where is the money?
This doesn’t mean that you need your parents to provide you with a balance sheet, but starting off with knowing where they bank and if they have shares, superannuation, funeral bonds, etc. Furthermore, do you have enough information to develop a cost base for a share portfolio should the shares be sold?
So often the case of putting this information together once a parent is gone or no longer has their faculties is a meticulous task of going through paperwork found in the house and contacting institutions to see if policies still exist.
What is in the will?
You may not need to know all the details but if you are the beneficiary of your parent’s estate (probably best not to assume) then how have they left their estate to you? This is a time for you to share some information with them. Your parents could leave their estate directly to you or they could leave it to you via a testamentary trust. The benefits of this depend on your personal situation and the extent of the estate to be left so getting advice on this is useful as it could provide you with tax benefits as well as a level of protection.
Whilst many people don’t want to contemplate their own demise, often forcing these conversations with your parent’s wellbeing in mind may make them feel more comfortable that their wishes will be carried out and everything is in order for them to be cared for in the future.
If you and your family need assistance with your financial situation please send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 08 8409 4333.
Cassandra is the mother of two young boys and Senior Advisor at William Buck. She has been assisting clients achieve their financial goals for over 10 years with a focus on holistic strategic financial advice.