Ask Paul: My partner died and I don't want to make mistakes


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Q. My partner passed away 18 months ago and left us a large amount of money. I am 48 and have three kids: a 23-year-old son and two daughters aged 21 and 14.

We have a home loan ($371,000), on which I have placed a large sum of money ($250,000), leaving an outstanding amount of $121,000.

I have set up investment bonds for the kids at $70,000 each. I also have a share portfolio of $230,000 and I've placed $200,000 on my super fund, which brings my account up to $450,000.

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My youngest daughter still goes to school so I have a high-interest fund with $30,000 for her school fees until Year 12.

I have some other savings for house renovations and holidays with the kids.

My biggest concern is whether I have placed the funds in the right area.

I have always liked to look at property as an investment and am thinking about plans for when my daughter finishes school.

Do I sell up and buy elsewhere or rent out our main home? Or is it better to invest in shares? - Toa

I am really sorry to hear about your partner, Toa. My commiserations to you and your family.

Your partner would be pleased to see how you have used the money to secure your family's future. Paying down the mortgage and reducing debt is always a good move.

You have given your kids a great start with the investment bonds, while also looking at your own financial situation with an addition to super and the share portfolio.

At age 14, your daughter will have around four years left at school, so there is plenty of time to plan an investment property and decide whether to rent or sell your home.

The answer to this is both personal and complex, but the first step is to develop a plan that meets your lifestyle objectives as your youngest child completes school.

My view is that this will really only develop over the next few years, so for now I suggest patience, while planning your future.

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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. Click here to ask Paul your money question. Unfortunately Paul cannot respond to questions posted in the comments section. Please view our disclaimer here.