Home Sweet Home

The affect your home can have on age pension or aged care fees

It is the great Australian dream to own your own home. But how does your home affect your age pension or the aged care fees you can be asked to pay?
Eligibility for an age pension and liability to pay aged care fees, are both impacted by your assets and income. This includes an assessment of where you live and your ownership status.
The Centrelink (or Veterans’ Affairs) assets test starts by identifying you as either a homeowner or a non-homeowner. A higher threshold applies to non-homeowners but homeowners receive an exemption for the home.
At first glance it may seem simple to decide whether you are a homeowner or not, but it is not always that easy. The basic premise is:

 Homeowner statusAssessment of purchase/entry costs
If you live in a home that you and/or your spouse own  You are a homeownerHome is an exempt asset
If you live in a home that someone else owns  You are a non-homeownerLump sums paid for the right to live there might be an assessable asset

But if only it really were that simple! Arrangements may be more complex and variations may apply for certain situations. In some cases, you may be considered a homeowner even if you don’t own the home – for example under certain rules for aged care and retirement villages.

What is the exempt amount?
If you are classified as a homeowner, the building you live in will be an exempt asset, as well as up to two hectares of land (if that land is held for personal use). Farmers and people on rural properties may receive approval to exempt a greater parcel of land if they meet requirements for the 20-year extended land-use test rule.

What if you move out?
If you move out of your home, the former home usually becomes an investment property and is fully assessable at market value. Some specific exemptions include:
• Move to access care – you may continue to be a homeowner with the home exempt for up to two years
• Temporary move – in other cases, if the move is only temporary, you may be allowed a 12-month continuation of your homeowner status.

Moving to a retirement village brings its own set of rules. This is considered to be a move to a new home rather than to access care. Whether you are a homeowner or not, will depend on how much you paid as your entry contribution and the former home is assessed as an investment property if still owned.
If you sell your home, the sale proceeds are assessed depending on how they are used or invested unless you intend to use the sale proceeds to purchase or build a new home. In this case, you can continue to be a homeowner, with a continuing assets test exemption, for the first 12 months. Money used to pay the accommodation costs for residential aged care, is an exempt asset.

Talk to us
Buying a home or moving out of your home are major life decisions, and can involve significant amounts of money. Access to advice can help to ensure that you make a fully informed decision and understand the impacts on your pension or aged care fees – mistakes are too costly to make.

As Accredited Aged Care Professionals ™ , we have the expertise to help you understand the full implications. Call us on 9240 5370 to make an appointment.

The information and any advice in this presentation is of a general nature only and does not take into account the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular person. You should obtain advice relevant to your circumstances before making decisions in relation to any matters discussed. You should obtain and consider the Product Disclosure Statement for any product discussed before making a decision to acquire that product. The case studies are hypothetical, for illustration purposes only and are not based on actual returns. Before making an investment decision based on this advice you should consider, with or without the assistance of a qualified adviser, whether it is appropriate to your particular investment needs, objectives and financial circumstances. Past performance of financial products is no assurance of future performance. While every care has been taken in the preparation of this information, it may not remain current after the date of publication and Infocus Advisory and its related bodies corporate make no representation as to its accuracy or completeness.

Andrew O’Neil is an Authorised Representative and Adon Nominees Pty Ltd ABN 23 046 296 957 [t/a ONeil Financial Planning] is a Corporate Authorised Representative of Infocus Securities Australia Pty Ltd ABN 47 097 797 049, AFSL and Australian Credit Licence No. 236523.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION: This document has been prepared by Aged Care Steps Pty Limited, ABN 42 156 656 843 AFSL 486723, registered tax (financial) advisers (25581502) based on our understanding of the relevant legislation at the time of writing. While every care has been taken, Aged Care Steps Pty Limited makes no representations as to the accuracy or completeness of the contents. The information is of a general nature only and has been prepared without consideration of your individual objectives, financial situation or needs. Before making any decisions, you should consider the appropriateness for your personal investment objectives, financial situation or individual needs. We recommend you see a financial adviser, registered tax agent or legal adviser before making any decisions based on this information. Current at 1 October 2021.

The Value of Advice Part 1

What is the value of advice and using an adviser? Is it higher investment returns, paying less tax, higher Centrelink benefits, low cost investments ? Perhaps it is a smooth transition when your partner dies?

Is it knowing that you are always comfortable no matter what happens ?

This is an exchange yesterday with one client whose partner recently died. We have been working togther to finalise the estate. Roma became a client in 2008, her partner Alan in 2011 and Alan died at the end of 2020. In the modern vernacular they are a blended family, each with children of their own before they met.

This is a text message exchange i had after our meeting.

Thank you for making me feel so safe and secure. Alan trusted so few people but was so right with you. No I haven’t opened the bottle I just know how lucky I am . Also you and Joni never make me feel inadequate ( even if you feel it)xx Roma

Thanks Roma i appreciate your feedback. Joni and I certainly have always enjoyed dealing with you and Alan. As we discussed yesterday my job is very rewarding where we can assist people use their resources and the laws to put themselves in a far better position. Your life is so much better because you feel secure even when you are doing whatever you want. Enjoy cheers Andrew

In a nutshell!(Roma)

Roma and Alan never asked about what their investments are earning or what they cost. That was my job to make sure their portfolio was doing what was required in a cost effective manner. The specific details were covered in every advice document so they had all the information.

When the Pandemic hit Roma and Alan were busy with cancer treatment. They knew their money was safe. We worked with Alan to allow him to share his estate with his son and Roma’s children before he died so he could see the joy in their faces.

Roma said the day that Alan and his son were crying together was one of the better days of her life. Alan’s son thought his dad was making contact to ask him to assist with the funeral costs which he was happy to do. He got such a shock when his Dad giving him a big deposit so he could buy his first house with his wife and children.

The bottle reference is a result of me doing my small bit for the WA wine industry. Hayshed Hill had wine destined for overseas where the orders were cancelled so Hayshed Hill were discounting the wines to clear them. I purchased 3 dozen bottles with the idea of giving them to clients that come into the office for meetings and Roma came to our Canning Vale office.

It is never to early to start planning to live your perfect life which sometimes includes arranging things for really good outcomes at the end of life for all your family.

Financial planning week FPA CEO Dante De Gori ABC News Breakfast

During Financial Planning Week it was good to hear from the FPA Chief Executive Dante De Gori on ABC news breakfast about the impact Covid has had on the reliability of peoples income during the pandemic. This impact has been important to their savings plans and goals and in 50% of people has had a significant impact.

The interview included references to the amount of information that is available to consumers everywhere however there is a lot of difference between information and how that information should apply to your circumstances and that is where a financial planner can assist you on your journey.

What is your plan ? It is never too early to start planning. If you would like to speak with an adviser then contact our office and we be happy to assist.

FPA CEO Dante De Gori CFP interview on ABC News Breakfast – YouTube

How Does Financial Planning Work ?

Financial Planning is a relatively new profession so there is a degree of nervousness amongst consumers about what the process is and how they will benefit. Why does anyone even need to see a financial planner ?

This week is Financial Planning week. The intention of Financial Planning week is to raise awareness amongst consumers about financial planning and how it works.

The laws in Australia relating to superannuation, savings, Centrelink and income tax are complex to put it nicely. Successive governments from both sides have been making their presence felt for many years to make things simpler. When the government is trying to make thing simpler you would not be surprised if the opposite happens.

There has been a huge amount of change in Financial Planning as the government tries to create an environment where you, the consumer is happy, comfortable and benefits from seeing a financial planner.

The government wants people to use financial planners and the government wants to know that you will be well looked after when you see a planner and you will derive significant benefit. I cannot argue with any of those sentiments. The government also wants you to know exactly what you are paying advisers and why and there is no argument from me on that front either.

The following is an article from the FPA’s Money and Life Websit about how financial planning works. I hope you enjoy the article and if you think that you may want to have a financial plan prepared then please seek out your local financial planner and if you are somewhere near Balcatta or Canning Vale then please contact our office.


Should I See a Financial Planner

It is Financial Planning Week and the purpose of Financial Planning Week is to create awareness in the community about how consumers benefit from meeting with a Financial Planner. As far as we are concerned Improving your Lifestyle is our business and we do that by assisting you in preparing your financial plan to achieve the outcomes that you are looking to achieve.

We have included below a link to the FPA’s Money and Life Website and the article Why should I see a Financial Planner?

It is never too early to start planning. This is a great article from the FPA’s Money and Life Website for you to read and consider what you would like to do. I hope you enjoy the linked article and if you think that you may benefit from meeting with a financial planner then contact us and we will be happy to assist.

Money and Life | Why should I see a financial planner?

Confidence in your portfolio outcomes

Are you confident your portfolio will produce the outcomes you want long term?

How are you invested?

Do you have My Super ? Do you think your My Super Super account is invested with your thoughts and dreams in mind? When did you discuss with your superannuation fund how you wanted your My Super portfolio invested?

What are you trying to achieve?

We spend a lot of time with clients explaining why their portfolio will produce the outcomes they want in all investment markets. People say you cannot predict things like Covid 19, the GFC or World Trade Centre disaster. That is true however whatever the cause, Share market falls of 20-30% happen all the time and you can prepare for that.

You know it will happen, you dont know when, you dont know the trigger you just know it will happen. The longer it has been since a big fall the closer the next one is.

If you know there will be a heavy share market falls then the only relevant question is what happens to you when it happens? If you cannot answer that question now, you need to get the answer before it happens otherwise you could be jeopardizing your financial future.

You need confidence that your money will look after you in all economic environments. To have that confidence you need to be engaged in how your portfolio is set up. That is what your financial planner can assist you with. Ensuring you have the cashflow to maintain your lifestyle long term is what your adviser is working with you to achieve and reliable investment returns are part of that process.

Active or Passive Managers
There is a lot of debate about Active Managers and Passive Managers and what is better. For the record we use Active and Passive mangers to achieve the clients objectives. What rate of return are you happy with ? That comes from Asset Allocation. How volatile do you want your portfolio ? That also comes from asset allocation. Do you want high return and high volatility or more steady return and stable asset values. That also is asset allocation. Some assets like cash earning 0.5% dont look that attractive when other assets are earning 20%+ pa. They look very attractive when shares are falling 20%. The key always is what is your exposure level. Eg what is your Asset Allocation

The cost of your portfolio comes from a combination of factors that can include passive managers, active managers. You could even hold a portfolio of shares yourself and dont pay any fee for that. It depends on what involvement you want and what other outcomes you are trying to achieve.

Interesting article

This article is from Perpetual who are an active manager who have people travelling the country and the world speaking with companies about what they are doing, how they see the prospects for their business against competitors. Perpetual use that research to work our how well a company is performing, is it expensive to buy at its current share price based on how we see its profits growing. They then have to decide if they want to include that company in the portfolio compared to 100’s of others that they have researched. In the end they will only have between 50-70 companies in a portfolio and will review 200-400 companies to arrive at their preferred portfolio.

This is an article about the Australian Company Boral and the research Perpetual did before buying a share holding in Boral.

If you would like to have a discussion with us about your portfolio and what outcomes you are hoping to get we are a fee for service business and are happy to speak with new clients if you are looking to work with an adviser over the longer term.


The power of long term investing

I saw this short video from Vanguard The Power of Perspective that highlights the power and long term benefits of regular investing.

It is never too early to start planning your future and certainly never to early to plan your retirement. Watching this video will give you a lot of confidence that time is your friend so use it wisely. Your strategy will work if you put it in place.

If you are looking for a financial planner for any reason we are able to assist you. A lot of Financial Planners have retired recently so if you are looking for a new Financial Planner then give ONeil Financial Planning some consideration.

Enjoy the video and thank you to Vanguard for such a good tool.


Help for the sandwich generation

We all lead busy lives so juggling family, work and personal responsibilities can be complicated – particularly when people we love need increasing levels of care and support. This article takes a look at what to consider and where to start when you have older parents.

Encouraging older parents to accept help, can be difficult. But when help is accepted, as a member of the “sandwich generation” you may find yourself sandwiched between obligations to help with care of older parents and young grandchildren – and just when you were thinking about your own retirement.

Life might feel a bit overwhelming. Knowing where and how to access support for your parents and yourself may make all the difference.

Helping you – the carer
A good place to start your research is the Carer Gateway (carergateway.gov.au). This website can help you to identify and connect with available support services.

As a carer, your physical and emotional well-being is vital. So don’t feel that you need to do it all and don’t feel guilty about taking some time out for yourself. This is where respite care can step in. Respite provides short-term temporary care when you need some time out for several hours, overnight, days or even weeks.

The government subsidises respite care to make it affordable, but you may first need to arrange an Aged Care Assessment Team/Service (ACAT/ACAS) – so plan ahead.

If your care duties prevent you from being able to work you might qualify for a Carer Payment from Centrelink to provide you with income support. If you are not eligible for this payment, you might be eligible for a Carer Allowance of $131.90 per fortnight to help with some of the costs you are likely to incur.

Helping your parent
Depending on how much help is needed by your parents, you may want to look at support in the home or in residential care. These services may be government-subsidised, with the starting point through MyAgedCare (myagedcare.gov.au). Home care can help with needs such as house cleaning, personal care (such as bathing), social support and even some home modifications to adapt to your parent’s care needs. Even if your parent is living with you, they may still be eligible for subsidised home care.

Helping to understand the finances
Subsidised care can help to make care more affordable. But be warned, there might be a long wait for a home care package, so don’t wait until the need is urgent before applying. You might also need to find cashflow to contribute towards the cost or fund additional care.

We have helped many clients to navigate through the aged care system, providing our clients with peace of mind and a clearer direction on the potential options for structuring finances. Call us today on 9240 5370 and arrange an appointment to discuss how we can help you and your family.

Age Care – What is your plan ?

When it comes to age care and the frail phase of life everyone generally has the perfect ending in mind. I am going to be fit and healthy all my life, go to sleep one night and wake up in heaven or at the funeral directors and that will be it. Life will be peachy it will be lights out quickly and easily.

Sadly that is not normally what happens. You wake up in emergency, you may not be able to speak perhaps not move or something else bad has happened and then what do you do? Just because you can leave hospital does not always mean you can go home.

Age Care Homes
How can i get an age care place ? Is there a process to get into an age care home ? Who can help me get a place in an age care home ? What does it cost to get into an age care room ? How long will it take to get a place in a care facility ? These are all very good questions however you need answers.

Are the children expecting you to come to them whilst you recuperate ? Do you fit into their house. What care do you require and will it be the children or the grandchildren doing that for you ?

What are Age Care Services
Showering, cooking meals, toileting, dressing these are not always things that you want your children or even your partner to be doing for you. Can i get carers to the house so that i can go home ? Who will pay for those services ? These government home care packages i have heard about, do they really take 12 months to get funded ? What am i supposed to do in the mean time.

If these are questions that are running through your mind be that for yourself, your partner or your parents then you need to start getting some answers by preparing a plan your your loved ones Frail stage of life. You may not need it today, you may be the lucky one that has perfect health up until death. That is not most people and when disaster strikes it is all hands on deck until an accommodation plan can be sorted out.

Legal Documents

You go to an Age Care Facility and “What do you mean you need an Enduring Power of Guardianship before you will speak to me ? i need a solution now.” You stop arguing and head to the lawyer to be faced with “What do you mean it is too late to get an Enduring Power of Guardianship? The Age Care place just told me i need one!! ” What does Testamentary Capacity even mean? This is a nightmare. My Mum is stuck in hospital, the hospital wants them out and they have nowhere to go. Dad is freaking out.

Make an Age Care Plan
Like everything else in finance you are better to have a plan so you know what to do in case you are required to do it. A little bit of time and money spent now researching options available and what your loved ones would actually like to have happen should something happen to them. These are good discussions to have now whilst you can have them. There is never anything wrong with having a good plan in place.

The Family home and Age Care places
Do you really need to sell the house to fund age care accommodation ? Will i lose the age pension if i do that ? How is that fair ? What other options are there ?

Make a plan
Age care is complex so it is best to start early and long before you need it. Make plans so that when you need assistance you know where to find it and how long it will take to get help or accommodation. Whilst home care packages may take 12 months to come through most people start thinking about it when they have 12 days to come up with a solution and that is being generous. It doesn’t have to be like that, you can make a plan today so you know what to do for your loved ones.

Who Should be making a plan
Anyone in the 75-80 age range and older. Anyone with a parent or a grand parent in that age range as the likelihood is that the children will be looking after the parents. That is what normally happens. Are you prepared ? Who will you call ? What will you do ? If in doubt, call your financial planner. If you dont have a Financial Planner, Find one or contact us.