As a nation, we are living longer. More of us can expect to see our 90th birthday, and a growing proportion will celebrate their century.
Not only can we look forward to more years ourselves, so can our parents.
But of course, the extra years will take their toll. Mum and Dad will need help with many aspects of daily living as the years go by. Probably one of the most important of all with be with their finances.
At Continuum we are looking at giving your loved ones help keeping on top of their money.
As those close to us grow older, many find it harder for them to manage money like they used to. The cheques and savings accounts that served them well in the past are becoming less appropriate to a modern digital world.
Many people now need to rely on online banking services. Some keen silver surfers have thrived managing money online, but there is a sizable proportion who not only cannot use the internet, but who have no access to it.
The challenges don’t end with a need to provide solutions for everyday bills and banking. The passing years mean new financial challenges. Managing with a pension that is being whittled away by inflation, the need to pay for care or to adapt a home and preparing for the future may all become pressing needs.
For many, there are also inevitable worries about fading mental fitness.
The good news is that there are ways to provide solutions, and by acting sooner rather than later those solutions are easier to provide.
It’s good to talk
The first step may simply be to talk with your older relatives. Pride, or a belief that they should be able to manage by themselves can be difficult to overcome, but being able to understand what problems they face can be the first step to providing solutions.
Is everyday money management still simple? If they prefer to use cash, can they get it easily? Is the nearest cashpoint safe to use?
The simplest answer if Mum or Dad are not internet savvy can be to take over the responsibility for paying bills online, with a regular transfer from their account. This helps them avoid scams and other internet threats, while still preserving their independence.
You may be able to get help from their bank. Many banks are now making special arrangements for older customers – but you may have to ask what is available. This can include offering customers the option to allow someone to help with their day-to-day banking in an arrangement known as a third party service or mandate.
Coping when they no longer can
However, it is a sad fact that all our faculties may decline as the years go by. When you have responsibility for someone no longer able to make financial decisions you may need to provide support on a formal basis with a Lasting Power of Attorney.
This is a legal arrangement that gives one person the legal authority to make certain decisions for another who has become unable to make them themselves.
The person given this authority is known as an ‘attorney’, and the person whose affairs they manage is known as the ‘donor’. A Property and Financial Affairs Lasting Power of Attorney allows attorneys to take over the paying of bills, collecting your income, pensions or benefits, and even investing your money and selling a home.
Sometimes a loved one’s condition can deteriorate so quickly that it can be hard to register control of their finances in time. Just as you might make a will when you are still hale and hearty, you need to arrange a Lasting Power of Attorney well before it is needed, and the donor has the capacity to sign.
You can download the necessary forms from the Office of the Public Guardian (OPG). Separate forms are also needed from someone such as a doctor who attests to the donors understanding.
Planning for the future
With or without Lasting Power of Attorney, planning for the future is vital. Your aged relatives may need help planning for their care, or with the financial side of moving to sheltered accommodation.
You may need to ensure that there are sufficient funds available, and that tax and inheritance tax planning has been properly explored. Ensuring that financial resources are used in the most efficient way can make a big difference to their immediate needs, and to the future. Help from a financial expert is essential.
At Continuum we can provide that help.
We have expert knowledge not just of the financial challenges faced by older people, but of a range of solutions – and the sensitivity to help you put those solutions to work to maintain dignity and independence for as long as possible.
A Continuum advisor can sit down with you both to ensure that they make the most of their money and can have the care and security they want in their later years and provide solutions to ensure that wealth can be passed on when the time comes.
To find out more about how we can help with the challenges of finance for older people, contact us today.
The information contained in this article is based on the opinion of Continuum and does not constitute financial advice or a recommendation to suitable estate planning strategies, you should seek independent financial advice before embarking on any course of action.
The Financial Conduct Authority does not regulate Taxation & trust advice, will writing and legal services.