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Great 'Unpleasant issues of age chat' Hunt

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Great 'Unpleasant issues of age chat' Hunt

edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Over 50s Money Saving
71 replies 44.8K views
MSE_MartinMSE_Martin MoneySaving Expert
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edited 30 November -1 at 1:00AM in Over 50s Money Saving
The 'unpleasant issues' chat.

Some things aren't best avoided. Hopefully once you’ve hit sixty or beyond, you've still got several dozen years of fit body and mind ahead of you, but there’s a chance you might not.

The mental incapacity or death of a loved one is a hard enough issue to deal with, but often the financial complications can add a huge unnecessary blow to the pain of it all.

Whether it’s you who wants to avoid the subject, or your loved ones who’d rather not face it, it’s not something to put off. Difficult as it is, it’s better to deal with it head on than face the consequences of having not considered it.

One solution is to simply have a day when you discuss with your partner and / or dependants what you want, and how things should be organised. Doing it in one go makes it easier - it shouldn't be morbid – and it’s best to be open and practical.

As well as equity release and wills, issues worth considering include...


· A financial factsheet. Are you the only person who knows the details of your bank accounts, pension, gas and electricity provider or more? When someone passes away, often merely the process of finding out these facts can be painful. Putting all the crucial information somewhere secure so it can be taken over by someone else can be very helpful. If not, some of your hard earned savings may be lost.

· Inheritance tax planning. This needs doing early. If your estate is likely to have inheritance tax issues (joint assets, including property, of over £650,000), the sooner you tackle it the better. Many of the ways to mitigate this tax involve giving things away at least seven years before someone dies. See the Inheritance Tax Planning guide for more.

· In case you’re incapacitated. It's a really thorny issue, but if your faculties start to fade, who would you want to take over your finances? It is far easier to arrange the potential for a power of attorney while you’re still fully aware and able to take the decisions yourself - even doing this twenty years in advance isn't a problem.

· Are you in the right house? The family home which you've lived and brought up children in may not be the right place in later life. It could be that the stairs become difficult, or simply the size of it makes it tough to heat and look after. Not deciding what to do early could hasten a need to move into long term care if your accommodation becomes unsuitable later.

Plus do remember that while many in their sixties have good intentions for downsizing later, there’s the chance that by the time you need to, you may not feel up to it.

· Whose money is it? Perhaps not one for a discussion, but it’s worth thinking about yourself. Far too many people deprive themselves in their last years, trying to retain some money for their children's inheritance. Yet remember you too have a right to live as well as you can in your old age. Thinking through how to balance this early is worthwhile.


Please share your tips of how to broach this subject and what to chat about below.


MSE Martin


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Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
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Replies

  • Savvy_SueSavvy_Sue Forumite
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    I know it's a bit late in some ways, but I've found it easier to talk to Mum about these things since Dad died! They had made wills, and they had posted drafts to two of us to help them proof read: making it clear that you're happy to help with tasks like that IF THEY WOULD LIKE IT can give an introduction.

    Before Dad died, there was a bit of tension because Dad (thought he) wanted 'to go into a home and be looked after', whereas Mum was (and is) not at all ready to move. Actually we were fairly sure Dad would have hated 'a home' but we encouraged him to book a week's respite care to see what he thought. It never happened, but at least he knew we were listening to him.

    I like the idea of a day, it is an important subject. We've tended to do it in dribs and drabs, as the occasion arose, but we probably need a session to plan the revision of our wills!

    BTW, the LifeBook available from AgeUK could be very useful for both planning and your legacy ...
    Still knitting!
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  • edited 17 September 2010 at 1:11PM
    Willman_RoddersWillman_Rodders Forumite
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    edited 17 September 2010 at 1:11PM
    Here is a tip that as a professional will-writer I have found helps makes any discussion regarding the topic of death easier. It is so simple. If you are asking the question then prefix your question with...

    "If you had died yesterday [and ask the question here] ..."

    Similarly, if answering the question prefix the answer with ...

    "If I had died yesterday then [answer here]..."

    You can replace the word 'died' with 'lost mental capacity' or any other suitable phrase to reflect the unwanted outcome.

    So many people start a conversation with 'If I die tomorrow I want ....' and in so doing immediately create fear in their own mind about what tomorrow might hold.

    Using this simple strategy I have been able to hold detailed and unemotional discussions with people who were, prior to being given this instruction, clearly upset at the very thought of their death. But by directing them to use this terminology their fear subsided.

    Hope this little snippet helps.
  • ErrataErrata Forumite
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    Good to see the Age UK Lifebook getting a mention. It's a great help for those who have to sort out someone's affairs, as it's an excellent way to keep all important info in one handy book.

    Wills: It's good practice to review themn frequently. Specific amounts of money mentioned in a will written 20 years ago might have seemed generous at the time but are they still as generous as originally intended?

    Transport: Ask yourself how you'll get around if a car is no longer an option and the current bus service is withdrawn.
    .................:)....I'm smiling because I have no idea what's going on ...:)
  • Can I also ask that you bring up the question of power of attorney. My late stepmother's last request before she died was that I arrange power of attorney for my father's affairs as we knew he had dementia. His doctor considered him mentally able to agree to this but my father flatly refused to let either anyone have this. He is now in a nursing home , no-one can touch his money (including him) until a deputy is appointed under Court of Protection and this can take up to 26 weeks.

    My husband and children have POA for me and they and I for my husband because you never know what life has in store for you.
  • SuzySFSuzySF Forumite
    118 posts
    WombleKelly....I tried to get POA for my mother (father died some years ago) after she was seriously ill. I deal with all her financial affaris and keep her bank statemensts etc.

    I was quoted almost £200 for POA via local solicitors (the quotes were all between £150 and 200) Can i do this without the massive cost - i think its a bit excessive.......
    What goes around - comes around
    give lots and you will always recieve lots
  • edited 15 September 2010 at 10:09AM
    MOGCAGMOGCAG Forumite
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    edited 15 September 2010 at 10:09AM
    I read with interest the details of this subject as at 75 my family and I decided it was a good idea as another thing to think about is that if you don't do this and you are unable to make decisions for yourself your family has no say what is to be come of you which home if that is needed you go into or if you stay at home the social services take the whole matter over and family has no say what so ever. This happened to a friend and that was a real wake up call. It may seem expensive but is worth it for peace of mind. Once discussed and done it need never be spoken of again if it upsets you. Mogcag
  • edited 17 September 2010 at 1:17PM
    petronella57petronella57 Forumite
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    edited 17 September 2010 at 1:17PM
    The mother of a friend died recently and she had made a prepaid funeral plan, which made everything so much easier for my friend. She in turn decided to take out such a plan, and talked about it to her friends - it was a good way in to discuss such things. If you are a churchgoer it is obviously so much easier, as you can talk about the service or the hymns you would like at your funeral, without too much embarrasment! - It works with friends, although perhaps not so easy with relatives!
  • zantoszantos Forumite
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    My mother was in her late eighties when a neighbour advised her to visit his solicitor to make a will. She had been active all her life and saved her money somewhere over £40,000 that she would probably never use and decided to leave this to her five grand children and myself.The will was duly drawn up and witnessed and my mother considered the matter closed and fully covered and then even proceeded to arrange and pay for her funeral.
    A year or two later her health detiorated and she had to enter a carehome as she needed someone around 24/7. At this point she was finally made aware of the fact that although she thought she had no access to the money she had willed (not being that savvy about money) as fas as the council were concerned she was in fact a "rich" person having these savings which are now being eroded by her care costs. She is obviously very upset as she thought she would be leaving her next of kin something to remember her by.
    I suppose the point of this posting is to make people aware that trusts are not only for the so called rich people and before making a will you need to do a little research to see if you are getting the best advice on dealing with your affairs after your death. I hope this helps someone falling into the same trap my mother did seeing her bequests rapidly dwindling to half of what she thought she would be leaving to her family and still dropping farther.
  • When my father, who suffers from dementia, was recently taken seriously ill, my mother finally admitted that she was enormously worried about being able to afford care for him because in their wills, they had left fixed sums of cash to the family. She thought that she had to not spend anything on care so that there would be enough money in his bank accounts to cover the money he had stated he would bequeath us in his will!

    We had to explain that we didn't care about the inheritance, that we should spend Dad's money on his care now, and so on.

    I was surprised, actually, that their solicitor had allowed or advised them to write a will involving fixed sums of money. I recently drew up my own will and it's expressed in terms of leaving percentages of whatever's left over when my estate is settled. I had thought that was usual, but I see from a post above that this fixed sum arrangement is maybe more common than I thought.

    When people get older, they can get very anxious about money and those not used to dealing with financial affairs can get very confused. My mother thought that she would lose the house if my dad had to go into care, partly because of her misunderstanding of what effect the will would have.

    I'm rambling a bit but my advice would be to have wills as percentages of residual estates, not fixed cash sums (except maybe relatively small sums to charities); write your will as soon as you have significant equity (I'm under 50 but realised that I had a lot of money tied up in my house, even though it's mortgaged); and if you have elderly parents who are becoming frail, reassure them that they should spend their money on themselves and not be overfixated on what they leave! And if they seem concerned about money, see if you can encourage them to have a frank discussion about it - if not with you, then with a disinterested party such as a CAB advisor.
  • edited 17 September 2010 at 1:16PM
    cashferretcashferret Forumite
    216 posts
    edited 17 September 2010 at 1:16PM
    And another thing! My father has dementia, which suddenly worsened some months ago as well as developing other severe health problems. My mother was overcome with distress and neither have been able to function very well; both need care.

    What has made the situation easier is that we got them to draw up powers of attorney a few years ago. This means that I have been able to take over their financial affairs, relieve my mother of the burden of administration and the worry about money, and manage the payment of my dad's care and the household bills.

    We'd have been up sh*t creek without this. If you have elderly parents (or if you are pushing 60, say), draw up powers of attorney NOW. Health can decline dramatically and suddenly; when it does, you won't be in a position to draw these things up at the time. You need them in place.

    I'd advise you to get the attorneys appointed "jointly and severally" if the donor of the power is willing; that means any of you can act on your own. My parents appointed us jointly and severally but with each other listed as the first choice, so that when they were simultaneously incapacitated, I had all sorts of problems getting banks to accept me as attorney and had to get my mother to sign another document ruling my dad out as attorney, at a point when she was in a lot of distress. I'd advise against how they drew up their document; or if one is becoming incapacitated, get an additional document drawn up to exclude the incapacitated one.

    Really, events can move very quickly. It's crucial to be prepared!
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