We aim to help Australians living with dementia remain financially independent for as long as possible and be less vulnerable to financial abuse
There are over 447,000 Australians living with dementia today. As our population ages, this number is expected to grow to 1 million Australians by 2058.
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 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.
Consider planning 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.
Consider planning ahead by 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 in each state and territory - listed on the Australian Guardianship and Administration Council website - 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.
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.