Ask Noel

I expect to have $700,000 to put into draw-down superannuation at the end of this year, when I will turn 64. I own my flat and have no other debts. I am thinking of dividing the money into three and putting some into self-managed superannuation, some into an industry fund and some into a retail fund, and then after five years seeing which of them performs the best. Does this sound like a sensible idea to you?

I hate to pour cold water on your plans but I do not think that is a good idea at all. For starters, you would be paying unnecessary fees by having three separate funds, and the performance of any one fund would be affected by its investment strategy. For example, if one fund had an aggressive approach, it would do well if the market rose but poorly if the market fell. You really need to talk to an adviser and agree on an investment strategy and asset allocation that fits your goals and your risk profile and then have regular meetings, at least once a year, to see if that strategy needs to be fine-tuned.

I am 57 and self-employed, grossing roughly $90,000 a year on a business I run from home. I have a mortgage of $50,000 on a house worth about $650,000. I'm considering renting out the house and leasing somewhere new to live and work, then claiming the costs of the lease as a tax deduction. My house would rent for about $450 a week. Is this idea feasible, or would I be facing financial disaster?

You would need to involve your accountant, because if your new residence is both a home and an office, you could not claim all of the lease costs as a tax deduction. However, once you move out of your present property, the outgoings, including interest, would be tax deductible, and the rental income would be assessable. Your accountant will be able to do the numbers for you - I certainly don't think what you are planning would lead to financial disaster.

I am 64 and married; my wife is unemployed. My home is worth $800,000 and I have super worth $520,000, with 60 per cent in diversified fixed interest and 40 per cent in Australian shares. My net wage is $6500 a month and I salary sacrifice $1000 a month into the fixed-interest component of my super. I hope to work for one more year and then retire. I would like to have a reasonable retirement, with enough to pay bills and travel, plus have super to provide for me until I'm 85. Is there anything else I should be doing?

You appear to be well placed for retirement and I assume you now have a relationship with a good adviser because it appears you will be eligible for a part age pension. There may be strategies, such as gifting and spending money on home renovations and travel, that may enable you to get a higher pension. There is also the important matter of estate planning - I assume you have consulted a solicitor about a will and enduring powers of attorney.

We are self-funded retirees in our late 60s. We lost $1 million in our allocated pension fund due to fraud and can't envisage getting any compensation. We were lucky enough to have two houses; we sold one and invested the money. As the interest rates on term deposits and online accounts are going down, I was wondering what we should do with our finances. With our shares included, we are just over the limit for Centrelink benefits and can see our money diminishing every time there is an interest rate cut. Would it be advisable to contribute to a managed fund or just keep our money in shares and term deposits? We are very wary of handing our money over to another financial adviser.

Don't let a bad experience put you off advisers for life - there are plenty of good ones out there. There are managed funds that specialise in yield, and listed investment companies such as Argo would almost certainly do better in the long term than leaving money in the bank. It's important you have a diversified portfolio that fits your risk profile, and you can take comfort knowing you will become eligible for a part age pension as you draw down on your assets.

My sister and I have inherited the family home of 60 years. If I were to sell my half-share to her side of the family, what tax would I have to pay and how would I go about it? Neither of us work because my sister was my mother's carer and I am not well enough. The home is valued about $300,000 to $350,000.

Your accountant is the appropriate person to go to for advice but the property should have passed to you free of any capital gains tax liability, so your cost base will be the market value at the date of the owner's death. If you sell your share for that sum, there should be no CGT to pay.

Noel Whittaker is the author of Making Money Made Simple and numerous other books on personal finance. His advice is general in nature. Readers should seek their own professional advice before making decisions. Email: noelwhit@gmail.com.

The story Ask Noel first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.

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