Case Studies

Court Awarded Estate

 

Suzie, aged 17, received compensation after being seriously injured in a car accident.

Suzie was aged 17 when she was involved in a serious road accident as a passenger in a vehicle. As a result of the accident Suzie suffered significant physical injuries along with a traumatic brain injury. These injuries have had serious impacts on all aspects of her life.

Suzie has been through extensive rehabilitation over the six years since the accident and has progressed well in recovering from her injuries. However, residual mental and physical disabilities will have an impact on her for the rest of her life.

Suzie was awarded substantial compensation amounting to $2.5 million from the Motor Accident Commission for the injuries she received in the car accident. Suzie and her family were concerned about her managing the large amount of money she received, and especially about her being financially abused (for example, being encouraged by other people to buy large items for them), so it was agreed that the funds would be paid to Public Trustee as manager of the compensation payment. Accordingly, the Supreme Court made a Protection Order appointing us to manage Suzie’s compensation funds under the Aged and Infirm Persons’ Property Act 1940.

When the payment was made to Public Trustee, Suzie and her family met with one of our Personal Estate Officers, who was assigned to Suzie’s case, to go through all of her immediate and long term financial requirements. Public Trustee, Suzie and her family worked together to establish an affordable budget for Suzie, including a weekly personal allowance to cover all of her regular expenses. The Personal Estate Officer organised for us to take care of all of Suzie’s other bills, and they also invested a portion of her funds into one of our Standard Investment Strategies. This investment would be managed to ensure Suzie’s needs would be met for her lifetime.

We helped Suzie with the purchase of a house by ensuring it would be suitable for her in regard to her disabilities, it was structurally sound, and it was not overpriced. Suzie and her family also have the ongoing peace of mind knowing that the house cannot be sold without our approval, all expenses concerning the property will be taken care of by us, and it will always be properly insured and maintained.

SACAT Appointed Administration

 

Jack, aged 25, has mental health issues related to substance abuse and also has limited funds.

Jack was a 25 year old man whose health had deteriorated due to substance abuse. He was in receipt of Centrelink benefits and had a small amount of savings. The effects of substance abuse included Jack not being able to act rationally and no longer being able to manage his own affairs. He was constantly negatively influenced by others and often taken advantage of with regard to his finances. He required constant and regular support from social workers.

Due to the mental health issues arising from his long-term substance abuse, Jack’s primary social worker made an application to SACAT for an Administration Order that would enable an independent authority to be appointed to administer Jack’s financial affairs. Although Jack had family, they were reluctant to become involved as they were highly stressed due to the demands Jack already placed on them, and they were not comfortable taking up the role of Jack’s administrator, and SACAT appointed us to the role instead.

When we were appointed as Jack’s administrator we developed a budget in consultation with his support network, including his family and primary social worker. Arrangements were made for us to collect his Centrelink benefit and we also made sure that he was receiving any other entitlements for which he qualified, such as rental assistance.

We now collect the funds from his bank account and these are held by us in our Cash Common Fund account. From these funds we ensure that all his expenses are paid, which include rent, insurance for furniture and other personal items, and services such as electricity, gas, and water. We have also ensured that Jack’s savings are kept secure.

Jack also receives a weekly allowance which is important in giving him some control over his own money, and Jack develops special savings goals from time to time which might include purchasing a special item, participating in an important event, or going on holidays.

Jack and his family now have the security of knowing that he no longer has to worry about trying to manage his finances.

Ethel, aged 82, was diagnosed with degenerative dementia.

Ethel is an elderly widow living in her own home. She is in receipt of a Centrelink Aged Pension and has money held in both a bank term deposit and a savings account. She has two children who have families of their own.

Unfortunately when Ethel became ill and required hospitalisation, tests taken during her stay revealed they she was suffering from degenerative dementia. The medical staff determined that her needs would be better provided for if she were to move to an aged care facility. Her family advised the hospital that Ethel did not have the Enduring Power of Attorney or Guardianship that would have enabled others to make necessary decisions and take actions regarding her affairs on her behalf.

An application was made to SACAT to have an administrator and a guardian appointed. The family were happy to take on the role of guardian and assist with the everyday needs and concerns of their mother, but felt it would be more appropriate for an independent administrator to be appointed. They wanted an administrator who had knowledge and experience in managing the legal and financial affairs of people who were in similar situations to Ethel.

Ethel was to move into an aged care facility, and this facility required the payment of an accommodation bond. Ethel had insufficient cash funds to pay the bond, and therefore it was necessary to sell her house and some of her furniture. The house was put up for sale once SACAT gave their approval. Ethel took some of her furniture to the aged care facility, her family took possession of furniture that was bequeathed to them, and the remainder of the furniture was sold.

The accommodation bond was easily covered by the sale proceeds of the house and furniture, and the remaining funds were placed into an investment account on Ethel’s behalf.

We now pay Ethel’s ongoing accommodation expenses and, in consultation with her family, provide additional funds to Ethel to allow her to participate in activities such as outings and to purchase items such as confectionery and special toiletries that she likes. Ethel’s family are now free to enjoy time with her without having to worry about managing her finances.

Power of Attorney

 

Harry, aged 75, lives on his own after the sudden death of his wife.

Voluntarily appointed Public Trustee as Power of Attorney

Nine months ago Harry’s wife Edna died suddenly from a heart attack at the age of 73.

Edna’s death was unexpected and he was at a loss as to how to manage on his own, particularly given she had always managed their finances, ran the house, and looked after Harry. His own health was failing and he found it difficult to manage the household. Edna and Harry’s only child, David, lives overseas and was unable to provide much practical support.

The first three months on his own were very difficult for Harry, but with the support of organisations such Domiciliary Care, Meals on Wheels, and the Royal District Nursing Society (RDNS) Harry was able to remain living in the home he had shared with Edna.

While he had the support of these services to assist him with meals, medical care, and maintaining his home, he was overwhelmed by trying to manage his finances. Harry owns his home and has savings in the bank, but he was not keeping up with the payment of bills. He was also being targeted by phone and electricity providers and he had signed contracts for services without fully understanding what was involved (especially with regard to ongoing costs and any termination or cancellation fees that could be applied).

One of Harry’s friends suggested he contact us and appoint us as his attorney so that we could oversee and arrange payment of all Harry’s bills. Harry came to see us and we explained how we could assist him as his attorney, and he decided that he would like us to help him with his finances. We were then able to contact all of the external agencies that Harry deals with and arrange for all correspondence and bills to be sent directly to us.

Now we collect Harry’s income, invest his funds in our Cash Common Fund, and pay all of his expenses on his behalf and on time. We have arranged for regular payments into Harry’s savings account which he can access directly for living expenses. We make sure we provide Harry with quarterly statements about his finances, which include details of what we have done on his behalf.

We will continue to be Harry’s attorney and will always act in his best interests, and should Harry lose his capacity to instruct us about his finances, we will already be aware of Harry’s needs and wishes which will enable us to continue to act on his behalf.