Memory loss and your money

Dementia is usually discussed in terms of health, but memory loss can also be a money matter – forgetting to pay bills or struggling to comprehend financial advice are some of the challenges that can arise when it comes to controlling your cash.

If you’re finding yourself becoming increasingly forgetful – or you notice a loved one is struggling – then tasks such as remembering to pay the bills may become a problem..

This can be a common scenario, so if you’re concerned about staying on top of your financial obligations, here are some strategies to ensure your money stays protected.

1. Simplify your finances
First of all, consolidate your transaction accounts so that you only have one to remember, and close any unnecessary credit cards or store cards. Then create a payment system that is easy to track – for example, keep a list of bills on the fridge and tick them off as you pay. Direct debits can also be useful.

2. Appoint a power of attorney and review your will
An ‘enduring power of attorney’ allows you to choose someone to manage your affairs in the event that you lose the ability to make decisions for yourself. Review your current will or, if you don’t have one, it may be the perfect time to create one.

3. Sort your super
Unlike your other assets, your super account does not automatically form part of your estate, which means you cannot nominate the beneficiaries in your will. To take control of this, you need to make a binding beneficiary nomination through your super fund. If you have more than one fund, it’s a good idea to consolidate them to simplify maintenance. And if you have a self-managed super fund, you may want to reconsider your options, as it’s a complex process that could be affected by memory impairment.

4. Organise important documents
Whether for yourself or an appointed person, managing your financial affairs is much simpler if your documents are in order. Assemble your key personal information in one place (e.g. birth certificate, tax documents, insurance information, will), as well as any financial or health documents that may of relevance.

5. Protect yourself from financial abuse
Memory loss can make you vulnerable to exploitation from people around you and, as much as you may not like the idea, it’s important to safeguard yourself from the risk of financial abuse.

Read more at MoneySmart.

Do you suffer from significant memory loss? How have you managed to keep track of your finances?

Written by Louise Baxter

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