NSW Trustee & Guardian has successfully represented a customer in a landmark High Court of Australia ruling in the case of Fairbairn v Radecki*.
The High Court heard how Mrs Fairbairn, who lives with dementia, was financially exploited by her de facto partner Mr Radecki, who changed her Enduring Power of Attorney and Will for personal gain. He also failed to make ‘reasonable and necessary allowances’ for Mrs Fairbairn’s needs.
These events, and family conflict between Mr Radecki and Mrs Fairbairn’s children, led to the NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal (NCAT) appointing NSW Trustee & Guardian as Mrs Fairbairn’s financial manager.
“In our role as financial manager, our responsibility is to make decisions that support the best outcomes for our customers, upholds their rights, and ensure we are making decisions that are in their best interests,” said NSW Trustee & Guardian Acting CEO Megan Osborne.
“Taking this matter to the High Court was a fight for Mrs Fairbairn’s rights, financial stability and dignity.”
The High Court held that Mr Radecki’s actions were not in Mrs Fairbairn’s best interests; they benefited himself solely, nor did he make adjustments to support her.
The landmark ruling provides clarity regarding what can be considered relationship terminating behaviour.
“We are extremely proud of the decision. This outcome has set monumental precedence for anyone who does not have capacity to make decisions for themselves,” said Ms Osborne.
NSW Trustee & Guardian protects, promotes, and supports the rights, dignity, choices and wishes of its customers through services such as financial management, guardianship, the preparation of Wills and administering deceased estates.
The agency can be appointed by a court or tribunal as a last resort to manage the finances of a person who may not have the ability to make their own decisions due to injury, illness, or disability. The agency currently manages the finances of 12,500 people in NSW each year.
“Sadly, financial abuse and conflict amongst family are often reasons we are appointed as a person’s financial manager,” said Ms Osborne.
“It can be challenging and complex work, but our duty is always to the person we represent.”