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Protect yourself from financial vulnerability

12 Jul 2017

Safeguarding your finances

A recent survey* by State Trustees reveals being financially independent is important to Victorian seniors. You’ve worked hard to build your nest egg, so as you begin to consider how your retirement might look and ponder how to make the most of your assets, there’s one thing you should do to help protect yourself from financial vulnerability — prepare an Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters.

An Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters authorises someone to act on your behalf if you do not have the ability to manage your finances in the future, e.g. you have a serious accident or suddenly become unwell.

Now is the time to prepare

The time to prepare your Enduring Powers of Attorney is when you are healthy, aware and able to make important decisions. If you don’t have these appointments already in place, and you have a serious accident or become unwell, it may be too late to appoint someone to act on your behalf.

Sadly, too often at State Trustees we hear firsthand accounts of people who have been exploited financially and sometimes this exploitation can come from unsuspecting sources such as friends and family. Protect yourself from risk. It’s important to choose your Attorney wisely so you don’t inadvertently give someone else a license to steal when you are unable to manage your finances.

By planning ahead of time and preparing your Enduring Powers of Attorney today you know you can rely on your Attorney for financial matters to step in and manage your affairs at a time when you need it most.

Protect yourself today

Appointing someone to act as your Attorney, is one of the decisions that you have to make when preparing your Enduring Power of Attorney. The person(s) you appoint as Attorney(s) should be someone you trust to manage your affairs and fulfil the duties of an Attorney. Take some time to consider who is best placed to take on this role, discuss your wishes with them and seek their agreement to act on your behalf when you are no longer able to do so.

You may choose to appoint more than one Attorney to act for you (for all or any matters). However, you should consider whether the solution is workable.   You may appoint your Attorneys to act: jointly — the Attorneys must make decisions together (all your Attorneys must sign any document); jointly and severally — the Attorneys can make decisions together or independently ( all your Attorneys can choose to sign any document, or one Attorney alone can sign any document); severally — the Attorneys can make decisions independently (one Attorney alone can sign any document) or by a majority — a majority need to agree to make a decision (and the Attorneys who are in the majority and agree can sign any document).

You may choose to appoint a professional organisation such as State Trustees to act on your behalf for financial matters. This can ensure that you have an independent and impartial third party to protect and manage your financial assets; which helps provide you with peace of mind as you move into your senior years. This is especially relevant for those who may be single or for people who don’t wish to burden their loved ones with the responsibility of acting as their Attorney.

Things to consider

Before preparing an Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters, think about the current arrangements that relate to your finances and consider if you want these to continue into the future. These may include:

  • transactions that occur as a result of any property you own;
  • banking and other financial institution transactions;
  • daily living expenditure;
  • payments for utilities such as electricity, gas etc;
  • government benefits such as Centrelink payments;
  • superannuation and other retirement benefits;
  • any monetary gifts you provide to individuals or charities; and
  • safe deposit box access.

It is up to you to nominate when you want your Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters to come into effect. This could be immediately, on a specific date or specific occasion (including when you cease to have decision making capacity). Remember, if you don’t have an Attorney for financial matters you might not be able to choose who makes financial decisions on your behalf and your assets could end up in the control of someone you don’t trust. Don’t risk it, prepare your Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters today.

Seeking help

State Trustees understands the complexities that relate to Powers of Attorney. Our expert staff can guide you through the process of preparing the documentation, offer independent and impartial advice and ask the right questions, including some you may not have previously considered. We can also help you make the best possible decisions for your assets.

Book an appointment here to create your Enduring Power of Attorney for financial matters with us, or call us on 9667 6444 or on 1300 138 672 (outside Melbourne).

*Your Legacy intercept survey, November 2016


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