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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Free seminar exposes risks of granny flats

A free seminar next week will give Novocastrians information on the legal, financial and social security implications of moving into a granny flat and ways they can better protect their rights and interests.

The forum, staged by elder law specialists Catherine Henry Lawyers (CHL) and financial advisory firm JSA Group, coincides with World Elder Abuse Awareness Day on Tuesday 15 June from 4pm to 5pm.

Co-presenter and CHL senior associate in elder law Tanya Chapman said granny flats could provide older people with a great independent living option while being close to supportive family members.

But, she added, there were also risks, including elder abuse or homelessness if the arrangement broke down.

JSA Group senior adviser Chelsea Robinson is the other presenter.

She said financial elder abuse was growing and, sadly, it was often perpetrated by family members.

A report by the Australian Institute of Family Studies estimates that, pre-COVID-19, between 2% and 14% of older Australians were experiencing elder abuse in any given year, with financial abuse the most prevalent form.

Some older people sell their home and give the money to a child in return for a granny flat.

Others allow their children to move into a home and build a granny flat on the property to live in.

“That can be a wonderful arrangement for most people, but it can have unexpected financial consequences that people need to be aware of before entering into such an arrangement,” Ms Robinson said.

“A granny flat arrangement may affect a person’s pension or aged care fees.”

Ms Chapman said it was important for older people moving into granny flat arrangements to ensure they maintained social and community networks.

She explained getting expert, independent, legal and financial advice prior to making preparations was vital.

“Inheritance impatience can lead children to pressure parents into granny flat arrangements prematurely,” she said.

People must register for the seminar by visiting https://free-seminar-granny-flats.eventbrite.com.au/

It will also be recorded and sent to residents who register, including those unable to attend the live session.

For support with registering, phone Catherine Henry Lawyers on 1800 874 949.

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