NSW Seniors Week runs from 15-23 March and older Australians are being advised to take control of their financial affairs and put the right measures in place for their financial and legal future. According to NSW Trustee & Guardian, far too often older people are misplaced in their trust of others to do the right thing for them and this can lead to financial abuse.
Sue Field, NSW Trustee & Guardian Fellow in Elder Law at the University of Western Sydney says while people often think they can hand over their affairs to one of their children, it is quite common for the siblings not to agree with their parents’ choice. “You really need to think about appointing a power of attorney sooner rather than later, if you begin to lose your mental capacity, it will be too late and you may be left unable to cope with your financial affairs. It is important for seniors to understand that while it may seem like a flattering responsibility they are handing to someone they know, the role of an Attorney is a delicate one with legal consequences for the Attorney if they mishandle finances” Sue said.
Imelda Dodds, CEO NSW Trustee & Guardian, advises seniors to carefully consider who they choose as their attorney under a Power of Attorney, as the role is not one to be taken lightly. “The role of an attorney is to manage your financial affairs, so the attorney needs to have the financial acumen to pay bills and look after bank accounts, and if required, the ability to manage investments such as income from shares and rental properties. It is an important role but one that many people see as purely the responsibility of their nearest and dearest regardless of their skill-set to fulfil this job.”
There is no charge to make a Will or set up an Enduring Power of Attorney with NSW Trustee & Guardian. Charges apply on estate administration only, or for a Power of Attorney, upon its activation. Similarly people who feel like they may be victims of financial abuse should seek advice as soon as possible.
During Seniors Week, NSW Trustee & Guardian is holding special Wills Days throughout the State. Call 1300 364 103 to make an appointment and for general information visit www.tag.nsw.gov.au.