Ask Paul: My daughter won't let me spend my own money


Dear Paul,

First, I love reading your column, as it's very informative. 

I've got myself in a bit of a pickle. I've maxed out two credit cards and owe $15,000. I've also been scammed twice and lost more than $7000. 

ask paul clitheroe my daughter is controlling my money power of attorney financial abuse

My bank has been unable to recoup any money. 

I live in a $1.3 million apartment, which is fully paid off. Now my savings are down to $500. 

I have money in a separate account, which my daughter controls since my husband's death two years ago.

She has power of attorney and refuses to give me more money as she says I overspend and that she's trying to protect her and her siblings' inheritance.

She pays for my big bills out of my reserve money, but she is adamant that, as I get a pension, I need to learn to survive on that. 

I feel violated. I'm in my early 60s, and having raised three kids and worked all my life, I feel she does not have the right to control me.

My kids have had the best of everything we could afford - private schools, family holidays. They've all got beautiful cars and homes, and have travelled extensively overseas. 

Upon the sale of our lovely family home, my daughter informed me that by law they were to inherit part of the estate, so each one of them has already received more than $200,000.

My dilemma is, do I take her to court and regain control of my money, or should I just get a personal loan to consolidate my debts to keep peace in the family? - Janet

Oh, Janet! While parts of Kirsten's question made me laugh, yours makes me want to cry.

I suspect there is a lot here that I do not understand, such as why your daughter was given a power of attorney over your assets after your husband died. There is only so much that you can say in an email, but a couple of things stand out to me.

First, your children have beautiful homes, extensive overseas travel and now some $200,000 from the sale of the family home.

You have your apartment, but you have maxed out two credit cards and have $15,000 on those. Being scammed is a horrible experience; losing $7000 to two scams is painful. Your daughter pays your "big bills", but says you need to learn to live on a pension.

From what I am reading, you are being treated very poorly. So, I have no hesitation in agreeing with your thoughts to take legal advice.

"Keeping the family peace" is all good and well, but you are struggling to cover your living costs and credit card repayments. Taking out a personal loan is hardly going to help your situation. My fear is that you end up losing your apartment.

This first step you can keep to yourself, but you need to understand your legal rights and the choice you have to see what can be done to regain control of your affairs. Please speak to an experienced lawyer.

If you or someone you know needs support
Elder Abuse Helpline: 1300 651 192
1800Respect: 1800 737 732
National Debt Helpline: 1800 007 007  

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Paul Clitheroe AM is founder and editorial adviser of Money magazine. He is one of Australia's leading financial voices, responsible for bringing financial insight to Australians through personal finance books, the Money TV show, and this publication, which he established in 1999. Paul is the chair of the Australian Government Financial Literacy Board and is chairman of InvestSMART Financial Services. He is the chair of Financial Literacy at Macquarie University where he is also a Professor with the School of Business and Economics. Ask Paul your money question. Unfortunately Paul cannot respond to questions posted in the comments section. View our disclaimer.
Money magazine
July 20, 2022 8.29am


Paul Clitheroe is unable to respond to questions posted here in the comments. Please submit your question via this link:

Zoe F
July 21, 2022 1.02pm

It is absolutely not the law that money from the sale of your matrimonial home during your lifetime must or should be shared with your children. I also doubt the circumstances warranted the power of attorney being put into effect, but expect it will be simple for you to revoke it. Please consult a different lawyer to the one who assisted with the power of attorney as their actions may deserve scrutiny by the new lawyer. Look for a specialist in "elder law".

Personally I hope my mother spends every cent of her money living the best life she can. I can't comprehend "protecting my inheritance" and anyone who does this presents a major red flag. Could you not manage your own finances in future using a third party service to guide you with budgeting etc?

David Briese
July 21, 2022 1.33pm

How much money can I put into my bank savings account I'm on aged pension but told is $37,500 is deemed and needs to be included and will be taxed at 1.5 % but when. I don't own any property, have no self managed funds no investments, only $30,000 in super.

Money magazine
July 21, 2022 1.43pm

Hi David,

You can read more about the Age Pension Asset Test here: https://www.servicesaustralia....

Or you can phone Centrelink on 132 300 and out more about your options.

- Money team