Every day many older Australians make decisions that jeopardise their money or assets. Sadly, it is often family members who pressure older persons into making these bad decisions. Disputes related to paying for a granny flat or shared accommodation, especially if this involves promises made by family to provide physical care throughout the ageing years, is a common problem for the older people Caxton’s Seniors Legal and Support Service (SLASS) assists.
Rhea is a 75-year-old aged pensioner who was referred to SLASS. Rhea had contributed her life savings of $200,000 to the purchase of a home costing $420,000. It was her understanding and intention that she would own the house jointly with her son.
Unfortunately, after several years, Rhea discovered that the property is owned by a company controlled by her son and daughter-in-law. She also discovered bank statements showing that the repayments were interest only and that the amount of the loan was close to the original purchase price of $420,000. She was very worried because her son had previously lost money in risky business ventures.
This is one reason why SLASS recommends that everyone should obtain independent legal and financial advice before entering financial arrangements with family. Rhea would now be in a stronger position legally if she had insisted in having her name on the title of the property.
Unfortunately, when Rhea raised her concerns with her son, he became emotionally and verbally abusive. Rhea needed medication and therapy in order to cope with the impact of the elder abuse.
SLASS is a specialist integrated legal and social work service which responds to elder abuse. Our lawyer provided legal advice to help Rhea understand her legal rights and advocate for her needs. Our social worker supported Rhea to have the confidence to speak up, survive the emotional abuse and deal with the stress that the dispute created.
Rhea’s son refused to take part in mediation to try and resolve the matter. Caxton’s strong referral partnerships have enabled Rhea to obtain free ongoing legal representation. Caxton’s social worker continues to support Rhea through the legal process.