The family wanted to help her – but couldn’t!

How often have we as advisers neglected to serve our clients well by raising the important issues.

Today I was contacted by a lovely young lady who was deeply concerned about her mother Maria’s health. Still working at aged 72, Maria has been a client of ours for 20 years.  A strong, intelligent and independent lady we have advised her on investments, TTR’s, pension bonus schemes and managed funds.  However we accepted her brushoffs when we raised estate planning with her.

With an adult daughter living with her mother on a disability support pension and a son in the midst of an acrimonious divorce we accepted her response that she would wait until her family situation had “settled down” before properly dealing with her estate planning. Our review notes from July last year shows that we raised the question of revising her will and updating a power of attorney to replace her husband who died a year earlier with one of her children however we left it to Maria to contact us when she was ready.

Last week Maria had a minor stroke and was taken to hospital.  A day later Maria had a much larger stroke, her health is precarious at best and the family is now in turmoil.

Her disabled daughter has no certainty of accommodation, her adult son is in need of his mother’s support and there is no documentation to empower anyone to take control of her financial affairs or medical treatment.  It is too early for the doctors to declare Maria as permanently disabled and allow the children to apply to the NSW Trustee & Guardian to be appointed as Attorney and Guardian however she is not in a position to sign any documentation in front of a lawyer even if she visited Maria in hospital.

Maria’s siblings are putting the children under pressure to find Maria better medical care in a private hospital but they have no access to Maria’s money nor any money to pay for better health care. Nor do they have the right as Maria’s guardian to even make those decisions.

As far as the legal system is concerned this matter will be resolved properly under the law.  As far as the family is concerned they are in hell.

As far as I am concerned we could have been better advisers and followed this issue up with more urgency.  We met our minimum obligation as her advisers, however in the future I expect more of myself and my advisers and have put systems in place to ensure this situation doesn’t happen again.

Good advice puts people first!

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