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What Happens If I Can’t Make A Decision About Financial Matters?

As you grow older, your aim may be to live a long, happy and healthy life. This is hopefully with the mental capacity to make your own financial and lifestyle decisions, and the appropriate superannuation to fund it.

But not everyone is always able to do this as they grow older. In the worst-case scenario, you may find yourself unable to make those choices yourself due to a diminished mental capacity (such as from mental deterioration, illness etc). If you can’t make your financial decisions, this could be bad.

There is often a misconception that people who lose their capacity to make, for example, financial decisions will simply be able to have their partner or spouse step in to make those decisions on their behalf. This is not the case.

Even if you are in a relationship with someone or own property jointly with them, they do not automatically have the power to make those financial decisions for you. This is where estate planning comes into play.

An estate plan records what you want to be done with your assets after your death. It can include documents such as:

  • your will
  • a testamentary trust (as part of your will)
  • superannuation binding nominations

It also covers how you want to be cared for — medically and financially — if you can no longer make your own decisions. This part of your estate plan may be in documents such as:

  • any powers of attorney
  • a power of guardianship (giving someone the right to choose where you live and to make decisions about your medical care)
  • an advance healthcare directive (your needs, values and preferences for your future care)

You may also choose to create an Enduring Power Of Attorney, which is a substitute decision-maker on your behalf. An EPOA is essential for clients who have their own Self-Managed Super Fund (SMSF).

The SMSF regulations require that members of the SMSF are either a trustee of the fund or directors of a company acting as the trustee. If a fund member is incapacitated, the member cannot be a trustee or a Director of a company. If that occurs, the SMSF becomes ‘non-complying’ which means it loses the tax concessions given by the super regulations.

Depending on your state of residence, powers of attorney may have different rights and obligations, particularly with respect to financial matters. Doing research and consulting with us about what your course of action could be if you were to lose your mental capacity for financial decisions could be a great start.

If you’re someone who often finds it difficult to make large lump sum payments for goods or services, you may want to consider looking into “Buy Now Pay Later” services.

Buy now pay later essentially means that, rather than paying in a full lump sum payment for a product or services rendered, there may be an option to pay through instalments of a certain amount over a set period to make the sum of the full amount in total. This method should allow you to pay in full for the product or service without overly straining your finances – you pay back what you can, as agreed upon when you begin the buy now pay later service.

Some popular buy now pay later services include Afterpay, Zip Pay, Brightepay, and some credit card networks such as  Mastercard and Visa, can offer buy now pay later arrangements.

Though it can be a convenient, immediate solution, it may be challenging to juggle the necessary repayments with other financial commitments. It’s not always the most appropriate method for people, and you should bear in mind your situation and ability in paying back the amounts. 

Before you sign up, keep in mind: 

  • It becomes easier to overspend with buy now pay later services, so know your limits on what you can and can’t afford.
  • You will be charged fees and costs to use the service, which can add up to a princely sum in and of itself.
  • Keeping track of your payments can be tricky if you’ve signed up for multiple services.
  • It could affect your loan applications for a car or mortgage as lenders consider buy now pay later spending just as much as your credit score.
  • Late repayments can appear on your credit report, which affects your ability to borrow money in the future.
  • Layby can be a cheaper alternative to buy now pay later, with no account-keeping or late fees to consider

If you are someone who could make use of BNPL services, you may wish to:

  • Ensure that when using the BNPL service, you stick to a set limit on what you spend so that you can comfortably pay it back later. 
  • Aim only to have one BNPL account at a time to manage payments through, rather than confuse yourself with multiple payments across different providers.
  • Always budget for bills, loan payments and BNPL payments, and 
  • Rather than use your credit card for payments to your BNPL account, consider linking to your debit account instead.

If you would like assistance in planning your financial future, help in managing your budget or some friendly advice, see us for a chat about what we can do for you.

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John Briggs

Jane Noller has been my accountant for the last 15 plus years. I can testify to Jane’s professionalism and expeditious manner in dealing with the day to day issues that surrounds our business accounting.

John Briggs

Registered Building Certifier

David and Alison Parker

I have been consulting J L Noller and Co. (more specifically Jane) for six years and during this time I have found her to be professional, efficient and easy to discuss all accounting and taxation matters with. Her office team are all polite and friendly also.

David and Alison Parker

Business Owner

Carl Gillmore

I have used Jane & the team for the last 6 years for all of my business & personal accounting needs. They have always been professional, easy to talk to & available when we have needed assistance.

Carl Gillmore

Carl Gillmore Landscape

John Briggs

Jane Noller has been my accountant for the last 15 plus years. I can testify to Jane’s professionalism and expeditious manner in dealing with the day to day issues that surrounds our business accounting.

John Briggs

Registered Building Certifier