Giving our clients good advice often means knowing when to ask questions they haven’t thought of. Susan came to us about investing her superannuation as she neared retirement. We spent time finding out more about Susan’s life and family. We soon learned that superannuation investment fitted into a far bigger picture: looking after her disabled daughter, Beth.
Beth has lupus, a chronic auto-immune disease. Beth is in a wheelchair and often has fainting spells. Susan and her partner Paul spend a lot of time caring for Beth, as does Beth’s husband, Owen.
Susan and Paul’s question
Susan and Paul faced a crucial question: how can they manage their financial security into their retirement while still providing for Beth’s future care needs?
Beth qualifies for the Disability Support Pension, which gives her some financial independence. Just as importantly, Beth’s eligibility for the pension gives her access to many other government benefits, such as subsidised medication and support services.
Before they came to us, Susan and Paul had sought legal advice, and drafted a will that would leave a large sum of money to Beth as a gift. Our analysis showed that the flow-on effects of this gift would leave Beth far worse off financially. Beth’s assets would exceed the cut-off point for the Disability Support Pension. Not only would Beth lose the pension, she would also lose access to the other government support that makes her life easier.
Our challenge was finding how to provide for Beth’s financial security without compromising her benefits.
A plan for Beth and Susan
We came up with a different strategy, one that allowed Susan to live off her investments in retirement, and look after Beth in the future. In their will, Susan and Paul could transfer their assets to a special disability trust set up for Beth’s benefit. That money could be put to use in several ways. It could be used to pay for her care needs. It could be used to purchase an asset, such as a home.
Our plan also factored in how Beth and Owen’s finances could evolve. Owen is beginning a career in financial services. His income is likely to grow to the point where he and Beth would pass the Disability Support Pension cut-off point. Beth would no longer receive the pension for as long as he kept earning at this level. Then when Owen retires, Beth’s eligibility for a pension could restart.
The plan we created for Susan will also benefit Beth and Susan, more than 40 years into the future.
How we helped their family
We achieved what Susan first came to us for — we showed her how to draw income by investing part of her superannuation. But Susan and Paul also updated their will to provide for Beth. By creating a whole of life financial plan, we made sure that the people who matter to them are well provided for.
If you’re grappling with your family’s financial security, call us for professional advice on your options — or stop in to see us at 64 Northbourne Ave. You can’t miss us — we’re on the ground floor, facing onto Bunda St.
…or book an appointment now
(image credit Julian Voss-Andreae via Wikimedia)