We aim to help Australians living with dementia remain financially independent for as long as possible and be less vulnerable to financial abuse.
About dementia and financial management
There are over 413,000 Australians living with dementia today. As our population ages, this number is expected to grow to 1 million Australians by 2050.
We know that financial management is one of those extremely important areas where those living with dementia can experience great stress and anxiety. It can become hard to absorb information from banking staff or your financial advisor, and hard to stay in control of your money. Things that you found easy before – such as checking bank statements and paying bills – may become more difficult.
We also understand that coming into a busy bank branch can become stressful and confusing. We want to help our customers living with dementia to be able to manage their financial arrangements and remain independent for as long as possible. We also want to help protect these customers from financial abuse.
It’s very important that you plan ahead so that your finances are easier to manage and so that in the longer term, decisions are made in line with your wishes and best interests.
An important aspect of planning ahead is setting up a power of attorney.
A power of attorney is a legal document that gives another person the right to make financial and/or legal decisions on your behalf. You may have heard of two types of power of attorney – ‘general’ and ‘enduring’. While a general power of attorney ends when you lose mental capacity, an enduring power of attorney remains valid over time – even when you are no longer able to make your own decisions. You can set it up now to start at a later time specified by you, or when you no longer have the capacity to manage your financial and legal affairs. Equally you can set it up to start as soon as the attorney has accepted his/her appointment. When granting a power of attorney you can put limits on what your attorney can do.
If you do not have these plans in place then a court, tribunal, Public Advocates Office or health assessment board may need to appoint someone to take care of this for you.
It is important to choose someone you trust as your attorney. You need to feel confident they will act in your best interests.
This person could be your spouse, child, another relative or friend. Alternatively, it could be an independent person, such as the Public Trustee, or your solicitor. Whoever you appoint needs to understand their responsibilities and legal obligations as an attorney.
Some people prefer to appoint two people jointly to be their enduring powers of attorney. If you do this, you need to be confident that they will generally agree on decisions and what is in your best interests. They should live in close proximity to each other to perform their duties as your joint attorneys.
No matter who you appoint, you should discuss your decision with your family so everyone knows and understands your wishes and use a lawyer to help you put the right sort of power of attorney in place.
Unlike some of your other assets, your superannuation account does not automatically form part of your estate. If you have a superannuation account with a member of the BT Financial Group, we can help you make a binding death benefit nomination (sometimes called a binding beneficiary nomination) so that your superannuation balance is paid according to your wishes when you die. You can nomination individuals (so it is paid directly to them), or your estate (so that it is distributed according to the terms of your will).
We can work with you or the person you have granted a power of attorney to help you protect your money in line with your best interests. This includes setting up automated options to protect your money in the future such as withdrawal limits and direct debits on certain accounts.
Once you become dependent on others for your day to day care or social contact, you do become more vulnerable to financial abuse. See Protecting you from financial abuse for more information on how to protect yourself from potential financial abuse and how to report suspected financial abuse.