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Ask Noel

I am 64 and will be retiring later this year. I have $210,000 in super and estimate I will have $230,000 at retirement. I had planned to sell my shares worth $92,000 and place the funds from the sale into my super account next financial year prior to retirement, to boost my super and to diminish our assets in order to obtain a part Centrelink pension. Can I still make that contribution? My husband is 72 and has been retired for 11 years. He has no super but has $24,000 in shares. We had discussed selling these this financial year and placing half the funds into my super account and leaving him the balance in a term deposit. I understand we will have a tax liability on the profit from the sale of the shares but am now concerned that I may not be eligible to add these funds into my super account.

If you were born between July 1, 1947, and December 31, 1948, which appears the case, your pensionable age is 64.5 years. Once you reach pensionable age, money in super will be counted by Centrelink so there's no point in placing money into super just to shelter it from Centrelink. Obviously, you will need to ask your adviser to do the calculations for you but, on the information supplied, you may not be saving any tax by selling the shares and putting the proceeds into super. You may find the best option is to leave the situation as it is and sell shares as necessary to fund your living expenses.

We have two investment properties on the Sunshine Coast. One of these was purchased in 2008 as a half-share with another couple and will finish its five-year interest-only term in March 2013. We currently contribute $400 per month, per couple, to cover the interest. When we purchased the property, the agreement was to sell it at the end of the five-year term. In the current market downturn, we stand to lose $15,000 per couple if we sell it for the same price we purchased at, although we fear we may have to sell it for less than the purchase price, so the capital loss will be even greater. We are going overseas soon to do some volunteer work for up to five years so the only taxable income we will have will be rent - one property at $17,000 a year and a second property at $8000 a year (five-year interest only). Would it be better to sell the property and realise the capital loss now, or convert the loan to principal and interest and continue to negative-gear until the property market improves and we can hopefully retrieve the capital we invested? We realise negative gearing will have no benefit but also don't like the idea of realising a capital loss.

It seems it's only costing you about $5000 a year to retain the properties. Provided you believe they have potential, it would seem to me a better option is to keep them and hope that, within five years, they have increased by more than $25,000.

I am a 79-year-old widow on the age pension. My son died last year and I am his beneficiary of a quarter-share in a property held as tenants in common. Three people live on the property and my name is now on the title deed. I would like your advice on my late son's super balance of $21,400, which is to be paid to me. My grandson should receive the money but the trustee has advised it will come to me, as my son did not want it left to the grandson. When I am paid the money I would like my grandson to benefit in some way and also do not want the money showing up in my Centrelink file. What would you suggest as the best option - buy him shares in banks or supermarkets or put it into term deposits?

The simplest strategy may be to gift him $10,000 before June 30 and a further $10,000 on July 1. Neither of these gifts would be treated by Centrelink as deprived assets, so your pension will not be affected. The grandson could then make his own decisions.


My dad is going to have to go into care and my mum will be left at home. Can you please advise if it makes any difference whose name their money is in when it comes to determining what they will have to pay for care? All their savings are in joint names at the moment. Should they get advice from someone regarding allocation of their money? Even though it is not a huge amount, it will quickly get eaten up in care costs.

Assets of a couple are assessed on a "what's yours is mine 50-50" basis, so it doesn't matter in whose name they are held. Because your mother is staying at home, it is not included in the assessable assets calculation. The assets that will be assessed include bank accounts, shares and so on, as well as any personal effects such as the value of a car and home contents. Half their value will be assessed as your father's assessable assets. The amount he can be asked to pay as an accommodation bond or charge will be determined by the amount of his assets above $40,500. If his assets are below this threshold, no accommodation bond or charge applies. The ongoing cost of care will be determined by their income - there might be an income-tested fee. Advice is essential, as this is a complex area.

Advice is general; readers should seek their own professional advice.

Contact Follow him on Twitter: @noelwhittaker. Questions to: Ask Noel, Money, GPO Box 2571, Qld, 4000, or see