In a startling new dispute before the State Administrative Tribunal (‘Tribunal’) in Western Australia, three sons who utilised in excess of $1.6 million of their elderly parents’ estate for their own personal benefits have been refused guardianship.
The Tribunal found that the sons had engaged in a number of ‘questionable transactions’ including:
- one son assisting his father to sell his parents’ farm, only to later transfer the $1.6 million proceeds to himself, to be divided amongst the sons (‘Farm Sale’);
- pursuant to the Farm Sale, the same son taking a $50,000 commission for himself and later transferring himself an additional $244,000 – of which only $200,000 was returned;
- the sons attempting to gift their parents’ home to themselves;
- two of the sons using their parents’ funds to pay their own legal fees; and
- the sons engaging in large cash withdrawals from their parents’ funds.
It was only upon a granddaughter of the couple applying to appoint an independent administrator that further improper conduct was prevented. The Tribunal subsequently ordered that the Public Trustee lodge a caveat over the property and consider an injunction to prevent the sons dealing with the funds of the Farm Sale altogether.
The matter highlights the importance of appointing a power of attorney wisely, even where they may be family members. While the Public Trustee can prove a welcome relief from matters such as the above, there are also instances where the Public Trustee is the subject of disputes from aggrieved beneficiaries or family members.
Should you or a loved one require assistance with appointing a power of attorney or challenging the appointment of the Public Trustee, please do not hesitate to contact our Wills & Estates Team via online enquiry, or alternatively on (07) 5592 1921.