Chartered Accountants Australia and New Zealand (CAANZ) has encouraged accountants to address with clients issues of capacity prior to the onset of conditions such as dementia, particularly if the client is running an SMSF.
CAANZ superannuation leader Liz Westover said having these types of conversations with clients is significantly easier while they are still capable.
“A diagnosis of dementia will be an exceedingly difficult time for the person and their families,” she said.
“Being prepared with a plan of action regarding finances, for when and if things happen, results in a much easier process and a better outcome for all concerned.”
Ms Westover said the early signs of dementia are often mistaken for normal aging processes and that people are often unwilling to seek help because of the stigma attached to the disease.
A formal diagnosis can lead to a person’s driver's licence being taken away, which may inhibit their lifestyle and mobility, she added.
“Understandably, people are often either in denial or simply reluctant to get help. Clearly this can impact on their financial affairs and their ability to manage their SMSF,” she said.
Accountants should be speaking to their clients at least annually, Ms Westover said, and this is the best time to be discussing their overall financial affairs.
“Addressing the ongoing capacity, desire and capability to continue to run an SMSF should be part of the conversation,” she said.
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