It is well accepted that some women are just not interested in finance. This is one of the reasons women can end up with less superannuation than men do. It’s also common in a partnership that one partner, often the male, tends to handle the finances. This can cause enormous problems if he becomes incapacitated and has not passed on the family finance knowledge. While major financial principles have changed little in 200 years, markets, on the other hand, can change quickly. Laws can also be a little fluid, although there is usually plenty of notice here. Whether you are a single or a couple, it is critical you have some financial knowledge to help you make the right decisions moving forward.
There are several key points you should be aware of as you move into older age. The most complicated issue in the financial world is aged care, which can personally affect someone now aged in their 60s as well as spouses and family. Navigating this is far too hard to do on your own. This is why it is important to consult an aged care specialist if you are in a situation where you might need aged care advice now or in the near future.
It’s also important to get advice about estate planning. Make sure you have a valid will and have given a trusted person an Enduring Power of Attorney so they can act for you if you are absent or incapacitated. Property ownership has a number of pitfalls, for example a property held as joint tenants will go to the surviving partner irrespective of the terms of the will of the deceased. It pays to be aware of what rules and regulations apply to your individual situation.
Another aspect of retirement- age finances that is important to understand is the pension rules. For example, as it stands, if Labor gets into power a retiree will not get a refund of franking credits unless they are receiving the age pension. Early 60s is the perfect time to decide how much you need for retirement, whether you are looking for the pension, and considerations such as whether you wish to give money to your children now or defer that until later. This is no easy decision – each case is different. If you are unsure of what rules apply to you, do your research and seek advice so you can plan for the best possible outcome.
Now is also a pertinent time to have written a list of assets, including, where your assets are held and what kind of assets they are. It is wise to also let your family know where your will and Enduring Power Of Attorney is held, the name of your solicitor, financial adviser, accountant and any other people who are relevant to your financial situation. Check over and update this every 12 months in a written statement detailing these assets and any liabilities. Schedule a meeting with your adviser every 12 months to check if your assets are performing as expected, and whether you need to make any changes to your financial situation. Be aware of the many dangers when rearranging your affairs – for example, if you move to a different superannuation fund you may lose the life insurance in your present fund and not be able to renew it. Also, there could be capital gains tax consequences if investments are cashed in, or if you decide to liquidate growth assets such as shares or property which have been left to you in somebody’s will and carry an unrealised capital gain.
If you don’t already have an adviser, how do you find a good one? When asked this question, my answer is always the same; “If I was a newcomer in your city, how would I find a good doctor, accountant, solicitor et cetera.”
It’s really a matter of seeking recommendations from friends who are happy with the person they are using. Searching the web for nearby service providers will also come up with other people’s recommendations.
These are just a few things to consider as you move forward into retirement and beyond. Whatever decisions you make, ensure you have the right information and trusted advice so you stay financially secure in this next chapter of your life.
Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. firstname.lastname@example.org