Minding the money: Families and the management of older people’s assets

Minding the money: Families and the management of older people’s assets

Cheryl Tilse and Jill Wilson

This seminar reported on key findings of a 13 year program of inter-disciplinary research in these broad areas.

A family group in a park

This event was held on Thursday 17 October 2013.

For many older people, families play key roles in the meaning and management of their financial assets. In executing these roles families act as substitute decision makers, assist in the management of assets, and are the most common perpetrators of financial abuse. This seminar reported on key findings of a 13 year program of inter-disciplinary research in these broad areas. The program has included the perspectives of families, older people and service providers. We have explored issues for older people with and without capacity, those living in their homes or in residential aged care and substitute decision making in Indigenous communities and other groups in Queensland. Projects have included national and state prevalence surveys, semi-structured and in-depth interviewing, on-line surveys, a file review and a community demonstration project.

The broad attitudes in our community to older people and consequently to their assets underpin family attitudes and hence their approaches to this task. There is a wide variety of views in relation to older people, their money and its management. We will focus the seminar on addressing a number of questions. Whose money is it? Who should be consulted? What does good practice look like? How do we support and promote assisted decision making? What is an appropriate balance between risk management and personal freedom? These are questions for policy and practice to minimize harm and maximize the capacity of families, broadly defined, to assist older people in this area. 


 Cheryl and Jill are lead investigators in the Assets, Ageing and Intergenerational Transfers Research Program at the University of Queensland. Over the past thirteen years, this research program has explored the intersection of individual, financial, legal and family interests in older people’s assets focussing on approaches to asset management, substitute and supported decision making, intergenerational transfers, financial abuse and financial capacity. They have a strong track record of building interdisciplinary and cross sectoral research teams; partnerships with government and non-government organisations and successful competitive grant funding. The team has been awarded ten national competitive grants; one international grant with the University of Hong Kong and four projects funded by government and non-government organisations. Cheryl and Jill have published and presented nationally and internationally on this research.

Their most recent projects have focused on the distribution of assets through making and challenging wills, in partnership with seven public/state trustees across Australia; will making in Queensland in Indigenous and non Indigenous populations in partnership with the Office of the Public Trustee of Queensland; an exploration of the forms, guidelines and practices surrounding the take up and use of Enduring Powers of Attorney and Advance Health directives funded by the Queensland government; asset management practices in Hong Kong and assessing capacity for financial matters.