Accepting gifts to buy a house

Toni wants to know if her Carer Payment will be affected if her brother helps her buy a new house.

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Q. Toni
I am retired and, instead of receiving the part Age Pension, I have chosen to continue to receive a part Carer Payment, which is equivalent financially to the Age Pension. I receive the Carer Payment, as I have a disabled son still living at home.

I own my home (a townhouse) but it has stairs and I want to sell and buy a single-level property.

With the housing market being so bad in Western Australia, and also considering the cost of selling and the stamp duty on purchase, I may not have enough money to buy a place of similar standard to what I have now. My older brother is a self-funded retiree and has very kindly offered to top up the amount I will need to purchase a new property. So my question is, am I able to receive a gift of money paid into a new property that I will purchase and live in as a primary residence, or will it affect my Carer Payment?

The gift towards the new home would sit in my bank account for only a few days while the settlement of the property is completed; or, it could even be paid directly from my brother’s bank account to the seller’s account.

A. You are able to receive a gift from a family member without your Centrelink payment being affected. What you do with that money may, however, affect your payment. As you are planning on using it to buy a home, which is an exempt asset, your payment would not be affected.

If you have money sitting in the bank, this money may be deemed to earn income and therefore your Carer Payment will be assessed accordingly.

I would suggest that your best course of action would be to have your brother transfer the money directly to your solicitor prior to settlement. However, you should confirm with your solicitor that this is acceptable.

You may also be well served in speaking to a Centrelink Financial Information Service officer, just to be sure you’ll be in the clear.

Disclaimer: All content on YourLifeChoices website is of a general nature and has been prepared without taking into account your objectives, financial situation or needs. It has been prepared with due care but no guarantees are provided for the ongoing accuracy or relevance. Before making a decision based on this information, you should consider its appropriateness in regard to your own circumstances. You should seek professional advice from a financial planner, lawyer or tax agent in relation to any aspects that affect your financial and legal circumstances.

Written by Janelle Ward

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