If you just need some quick recommendations on what you should be doing to keep your older relatives’ financial affairs in order, here Concierge Wealth management put you on the right road…
Sorting out any private or State Pension
It is important to work out how much money your relative has to play with; this will be a big part of working out how to fund any social care or help around the home. Due to their age they will probably be reliant on pensions for their income, so sit them down and go through what pensions they have. How much income does this give them? How much can they spare, if any, for household help or extra care? Or will you have to access financial help for care?
Building on the above point, get as clear a picture of your relative’s finances as you can while they are still fully compos mentis. So don’t just consider their pensions and income, get to grips with every aspect of their finances.
Check their premium bonds, national insurance record and their savings as well as any investments they have. Plan how these funds should be spent over their remaining years as best you can. If you need help, bring in an expert in the form of an independent financial adviser who specialises in later life to help you plan effectively.
Is a Lasting Power of Attorney in Place?
While your elderly relative still has capacity, they can deal with their own financial affairs without too much trouble. That said, it is not uncommon for some to choose to hand over this responsibility to their close friends, their relatives or a professional. Should they lose capacity prior to doing this, if you need to take control of their finances you would require an application to the Court of Protection for a Deputyship order. This can be both expensive and time consuming.
As part of the planning process, you should check whether they have a Lasting Power of Attorney or, if it was set up prior to October 2007, an Enduring Power of Attorney? If not (or you want to review it) you should speak to a solicitor about effecting a Lasting Power of Attorney. Remember that there are two types to consider, being the “Property & Affairs” version and “Health and Welfare” version.
Do they have a Will and is it up to date?
This might not seem like the most pressing concern when it comes to your relative’s finances but thinking ahead is really advantageous. Getting their will sorted out now could be hugely beneficial for all concerned in the long term.
No-one wants to think about the death of a loved one but ensuring your relative’s estate is all dealt with in advance – while they are in good health – will help you avoid negative repercussions when things aren’t so rosy. If they pass away unexpectantly and they don’t have a Will you could find yourself tied up in real financial knots, particularly regarding property, so get it out of the way.
Are they eligible for any State benefits?
Depending on their level of income and capital, they may be eligible for certain means tested benefits – Pension and/or Savings Credit?
In addition, there are certain non-means tested benefits they may be eligible for such as Attendance Allowance. This is a weekly payment if they require help or supervision during the day and/or during the night. Citizen’s Advice have a good guide to what benefits they might be able to claim, so have a look and see what applies to your relative.
As well as their own benefit entitlement, if you are a carer then Carers Allowance could benefit you. This can be used however you wish to help to prevent your caring responsibilities having a negative impact on your finances. You can claim this even if you don’t think of yourself as a carer and you don’t have to be a direct relative of the person you are caring for.
It’s worth checking to see if you are entitled to these benefits – currently worth £64.60 per week – as you will also get National Insurance credits each week towards your own state pension. You can check if you are eligible here. Carers are also sometimes also able to get discounts in some retailers and attractions, so it is always worth checking before you pay the standard price.