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Nearly $200k reclaimed for vulnerable client

State Trustees has welcomed a County Court ruling ordering a family member who misappropriated funds from his dependent brother to repay more than $186,000.

The result came after State Trustees took the action on behalf of a client to recover the lost funds. The court found the family member had taken money from his brother to pay for his own expenses. The court ordered the family member to repay the funds, plus interest.

State Trustees said the ruling was the best outcome possible, but the case should remind Victorians to ensure they have the best protections for their finances in place.

This case is a great example of how people in the State Trustees’ team can identify possible misappropriation and pursue people who have taken advantage of vulnerable people.

Although we’ve pursued a highly successful action in this case, we need to recognise that many cases of misappropriation in Victoria can’t be resolved satisfactorily – it can often be difficult to trace misappropriated funds and often money simply can’t be recovered because it has already been spent.

With that in mind, it’s critical we amplify the call for people to be proactive in ensuring they are protected in the event they can’t manage their own legal and financial affairs.  We know only 28 per cent of Victorians have an Enduring Power of Financial Attorney (EPA) in place, so there’s a lot of progress needed to change this and encourage people to make arrangements such as establishing EPAs and preparing a Will.

A family member is often the first choice as an Enduring Power of Financial Attorney, but we also know family members are unfortunately common culprits of misappropriation. That’s why it’s important people realise an independent attorney can be a valuable safeguard in ensuring a dependent’s interests are the first consideration.

Making an EPA is now more accessible, with simple and cost-effective EPA documents prepared by State Trustees and available to purchase from most Australia Post stores. For more information on EPAs, please visit our EPA page.

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