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What a financial advisor can do for you

Dealing with complex financial issues at a time when your main concern is the health and welfare of loved ones can be challenging, not to mention time consuming and very confusing.

Key points:

  • Aged care costs can be difficult to navigate if you have never experienced it before

  • A financial advisor can simplify the experience for you and also help you reach your personal goals

  • Financial services do have varying costs, however, if you are experiencing financial difficulties there are free financial counselling services

A financial advisor giving information to senior couple
A financial advisor can help you focus on the information and issues that are important to you and your financial situation. [Source: Shutterstock]

Dealing with complex financial issues at a time when your main concern is the health and welfare of loved ones can be challenging, not to mention time consuming and very confusing.

Just getting a basic understanding of what forms you need to complete, what information needs to go in them, when to complete them and where to send them can be a difficult path to navigate.

Your financials can get complicated when a move to care impacts on the pension you are paid by Centrelink. Plus you may have to consider other issues such as how to pay for any accommodation payment and whether to sell the family home or rent it out.

All this is at a time when your main concern is finding a suitable place for your loved one to receive the care they need.

Financial advisors

As professionals in finance, financial advisors understand the rules and how to make it work for their clients and their individual circumstances.

A financial advisor can help you focus on the information and issues that are important to you and your specific financial situation. However, financing aged care can be a very complex issue, and different financial situations will require different strategies.

Taking into account all of your available financial assets, a financial advisor can take into consideration your family home, accommodation payments, care fees, and cash flow and investment plans, to put you in a better financial position than when you first met.

Financial advisors are legally required to leave you in a better position than when you first engaged them.

Additionally, if you don't have to deal with the financial aspect of aged care, you can then focus on finding the best aged care to suit you or your loved one.

Of course, everyone's personal circumstances are different, however, there are some areas in aged care that can be common for everyone. Including:

  • Strategies for funding accommodation payments

  • Financial modelling of multiple care options

  • Maximising Government pensions

  • Minimising your nursing home fees

  • Negotiating with aged care facilities

  • Reviewing and planning for any tax implications

While financial advisors are experts in finance, it doesn't necessarily mean they are able to deal or are knowledgeable in aged care related finance matters. So it is important to understand the capabilities of your financial advisor.

Before you engage the services of a financial advisor, here are some important questions you should ask:

  • What licenses, credentials or other certifications do they have?

  • Do they specialise in dealing with aged care financial issues?

  • What experience do they have in aged care finance?

  • Will they provide you with some sample plans?

  • How much do they charge?

  • Will they provide you with an outline of all your options?

  • Will they provide their advice in ‘plain English’?

  • Will their advice be in writing?

  • Will they deal with Department of Veterans’ Affairs or Centrelink on your behalf?

  • Is the service a once-off or an ongoing service?

Make sure your financial advisor is the right fit for you and fully understands your goals. Be open and transparent about your spending and available assets so the advisor can provide you the best advice possible.

Decisions you shouldn't make yourself

The transition between accepting an aged care facility placement or receiving aged care services can be really quick.

But your financial decisions should not be rushed. You need to understand the consequences of financial decisions you make.

For instance, you should not:

  • Rent out the home before discussing the consequences with family or a financial advisor

  • Sell the home without considering the impact on the Age Pension and aged care fees

  • Choose an aged care fee payment without looking at all available options

  • Make assumptions that you can afford the aged care costs

  • Allow dominate family members to make all the decisions or influence decisions

  • Assume that all the aged care decisions need to be made before you get the care you need

A certified financial advisor or planner understands how big all the above decisions are and how much of an impact it can have on aged care costs and your finances.

They can lay out all your options on the table and explain all the benefits or disadvantages of each option.

Financial counselling

While financial advisors charge a fee to help you with strategies to fund your aged care journey, if you’re experiencing financial difficulties and have little income, you may be eligible for free financial counselling services.

Financial counsellors usually operate with community organisations and can provide you with independent information, support and advice. Financial counselling is also confidential.

Some areas a financial counsellor can advise on includes consumer credit law, bankruptcy, debt collection laws, industry hardship policies and Government concession frameworks.

A financial counsellor may also be able to assist in negotiations with financial groups and creditors, or budgeting and referrals.

These financial counselling services are funded by State, Territory and Federal Governments, generally they are free of charge.

To learn more about financial counselling, visit Financial Counselling Australia, or call the National Debt Helpline on 1800 007 007 to be connected with a financial counsellor.

What will it cost?

A financial advisor will charge a fee to provide financial services for your aged care journey. However, if you are struggling financially, you can access financial counselling for free.

Depending on the financial advisor and services you engage, the fees can vary from professional to professional. 

It is recommended you contact a number of financial advisors for quotes to compare the costs of their services.

Disclaimer: The information on this site is general in nature and does not constitute legal or financial advice. Readers should seek their own personal legal and financial advice from a suitably qualified practitioner.

Are you intending to engage a financial planner or figure it out yourself? Tell us in the comments below.

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