Let’s talk: Are you being robbed by your own family?

It’s a sad truth in our society but many Australians are robbing their older parents of their home and assets
Let's Talk

It’s a sad truth in our society but many Australians are robbing their older parents of their home and assets because they feel they’re owed it, and it’s being called “inheritance impatience”.

A NSW parliamentary inquiry into elder abuse has found just how rife financial abuse is in the community, and how little is being done to help the victims who have signed over their money and effectively their livelihood via misused power of attorney.

The inquiry heard that all other Australian states and territories have statutory liability for errant attorneys to compensate a victim for losses, though not in NSW, reports SMH.
But in NSW, the only option is to sue for fraud, an option unlikely to be used as it is a length and expensive process.

On top of this, the Baird government is closing down NSW Public Trustee offices that prepare wills and appoint attorneys for people who didn’t want to appoint a family member, or had failed to appoint anyone.

A spokesman for NSW Attorney General Gabrielle Upton said the Public Trustee and Guardian reforms would improve service. “People eligible for a full Centrelink benefit will continue to be able to make documents like wills, powers of attorney or enduring guardianships for free,” she said.

Superintendent Rob Critchlow told 7.30 that through his police work he has come face-to-face with financial abuse and said an ageing population is causing nervousness for family members who were relying on the death of a parent to supplement their income.

“We are seeing older people imprisoned in their homes; we are seeing them being robbed of their savings of their superannuation, of their homes” Superintendent Critchlow said.

“We are seeing people commit serious offences, multi hundred thousand dollar frauds, thefts of a large scale … and we often lack the ability to prosecute”.

Overall, a shocking 6 per cent of older Australians are the victim of elder abuse, however this number could be far larger – many cases go unreported, and some aren’t aware they are being rorted.

The Age Discrimination Commissioner Susan Ryan says it is a “huge problem” that is getting worse.

She is calling for a national approach to inform and protect older people, and encourage them to speak up. “Elder abuse is a huge problem in Australia,” she told 7.30.

“It affects all kinds of families, it’s not just something that affects poor people or rich people or migrant families, it happens right throughout our community and it’s getting worse.

“I think older people are ashamed, they’re guilty, they’re frightened.

“If [the abuser is] a family member they are ashamed that this would happen in their family, they’ve spent all their lives looking after their children and they’re ashamed to think the relationship has broken down to the extent that one of their own children could treat them in this fashion”.

One idea being put forward to tackle this horrible problem is an ‘Elder Justice Law’ that would bring all elder abuse problems under a law which criminalises elder abuse, even for those who can’t speak up.


Tell us, have you seen or experience financial abuse? What happened? Should there be more laws to stop these family members?


  1. This is disgraceful. Where does the sense of entitlement come from ? I encouraged my parents to spend their (little) money, whilst they could. They earned it and their obligations to me were finished, once I started making my own money.

    • Correct Mr Olesen, once I left home and started working my life was my responsibility.

    • I agree. My parents worked hard for all they have. I think they should enjoy what they have even if nothing is left.

    • I did the same. My mother only had a few months to live buried took her our carper shopping. Unfortunately I think some parents turn themselves inside out to give their children everything they ask for and his is partly to blame for the sense of entitlement.

    • Robyn that is spot on….. These days people are lead to believe it’s their right to have anything… It’s not I’m a firm believer in that if you don’t earn it you don’t have it same goes for respect and loyalty as well as money

  2. bloody shocking. they earned there own money.. so you young ones , get off your arse and earn yours.

  3. Disgraceful how they are allowed to do this i have heard of so many cases where this has happened.

  4. I am having fun and games with my kids (whom I don’t have a good relation with at the best of times). I am looking seriously at downsizing as a two storey house is far to big for me and going into a smaller single storey house in a 55 and over village up the coast, well are they performing, “don’t expect us to drive up to see you, it’s too far” it’s 2.5 hours out if Sydney, according to them I’m selfish and am only thinking if myself, yep I sure am and bugger them I’m entitled to a bit of comfort and some extra money.

    • stand your ground, it is your house and your life, sounds like you are headed up my way 🙂

    • Go and see libbbi she sounds like a good source of strength for you before tsetse emotional bullying starts

    • It is your decision to make Vivienne, I moved to a Village and would recommend it to anyone as it is a safe environment for older people and you make wonderful friends your own age, my kids love the fact that I’m safe and they know that I’m never really on my own which I guess takes the load off them.
      If it’s what you want just do it!

    • Good on you they don’t have to come every week come for a visit now and again enjoy your life while you can you will be put in a nursing home if anything happens , and they will come and see you once every six months. No go for it.

    • Do your thing, harsh as it sounds you may well be better off emotionally without your children.

    • Now is the time to be selfish – also known as selfcare – one day (probably when their own kids do it to them) they’ll understand – too late. We only get one chance in this life so enjoy it – that’s your entitlement. It’s hard breaking a pattern everyone is used to but I’m sure in the long run you will be very happy and fulfilled – besides who wants to be around people, even if our children, if they have no respect or appreciation of who we are as people.

    • Move on and enjoy your life. My kids both live away – if I didn’t get on with what I wanted to do I would be miserable. But I love it when they come home to visit. They also know I’m an independent oldy.

    • Actually, I feel a little sorry for you. By all means do what you want with your property and live where you want, but to not be getting on with your own children….well that is sad.

    • Sometimes for your own peace of mind, you have to do things like this. I can understand that. If the Sons and Daughters want to react like this, it would make me more determined to do it. Maybe she will get to be happier this way, l know l would. Why not spend YOUR inheritance on something you would enjoy. Might shake the selfishness out of them.

    • I would just suggest that you get a lawyer involved in making out your will and power of attorney so it is written in a way where they can not step in and take over.
      But good on you for taking this stand. And maybe the kids need to be reminded about how selfish they are being by not allowing you to enjoy your senior years after having spent years looking after them.

    • Go you, and stand your ground, you will meet marvellous people in your new surrounds I’m sure.

    • Take a few cruise holidays while you can. Nobody has a right to an inheritance. I see so many selfish and self-centred children who believe their parents and the world owe them a living.

    • Well if that’s not emotional blackmail what is?
      “I won’t come to see you”!!! Don’t then, I’d say and really tick them off, leave any inheritance to the cat/dog society!

    • Good on you .They hate you giving advice but they think they are entitled to interfere in yours .They are not all like that though .

    • Good on you, maybe it’s better if they don’t visit, you’ll make new friends and they are often better than family, but of course not always!

    • Why not go skiing ( spending kids inheritance) and enjoy yourself and have fun.Lifes too short as it is.

    • Neville Pollock  

      Here, Here to all the previous comments

  5. It’s because they believe that it’s theirs no matter what, and society has bred a generation of people who are given benefits at workers expense for doing nothing. We as the over 60’s never had these benefits and therefore had to work bloody hard and save for what we wanted, whereas this generation are encouraged to spend, if they don’t have cash get credit and get yourself into debt and then expect your parents assets and your supposed inheritance to get you out of trouble. YOUR PARENTS WORKED FOR THE RIGHT TO ENJOY THEIR RETIREMENT. GET OFF YOUR FAT LAZY ARSES AND EARN YOURS.

    • The average age of victims of elder abuse is 78, which sadly means that the average age of the perpetrators is probably somewhere in the vicinity of 50 or so. It is not the younger generations for the most part.

    • SOCIETY HAS NOT BRED THEM george newman over indulgent parents have …we had nothing so we wanted our kids to have it all …….. end of story

    • George Newman if I could like your comment fifty thousand times I would. Well said ‘young man’??

    • To Graeme Condely, we may have wanted them to have what we did not have when we were young but, that still DOES NOT give them the right to think they have the right to something that they did not earn.

    • We have a friend whose elderly mother is being ripped off by son and daughter-.in-law, under guise of being carers.

  6. This generation of kids are selfish . And I call them the me me me generation .

    • You just have to watch the current affair program’s to see this happening, & a lot of the time it people over 50 doing it to their parents, so you can’t just blame younger people.

    • Dawn, we are to blame. I hate to admit it but we are all a product of the environment in which we grew. Some good some bad.

    • Dawn I think that was the mistake. Giving them everything leads to the sense of entitlement and you just become a cash cow.

  7. Strong laws are needed to allow prosecution of those with Power of Attorney over an old persons money and property who don’t act in the best interests of the old person. I worked in an area paying superannuation pensions and it was depressingly common to hear of cases where the POA holder had diverted payments to their own bank account, and nursing home bills were going unpaid.

    • Most kids I think do the right thing Vivienne. Maybe it’s not wise to give one sole power of attorney because it doesn’t allow the other kids to challenge the POA holder if they do the wrong thing. I watched the show about this on TV last night and it seems one of the problems currently is there are no laws to prosecute the wrong doer or claw back funds. One example last night was a son who had pocketed mum’s multimillion dollar inheritance from her husband, leaving mum out of her own home and living off the pension in a nursing home. The daughter could do nothing as the son had sole POA.

    • Barbara Easthope I would like to give shared poa to my kids but some just don’t deserve any conrtol over my assets

    • There is no law to say you HAVE to give POA to children- do you have a trusted person who would do it? Better to have at least 2 for POA- maybe get some advice from someone

    • Everybody’s situation is different some of us have kids or a particular kid we wouldn’t let anywhere near our assets. I’d recommend anybody embarking on getting POA to get legal advice

    • Totally agree Barbara- and make sure the legal person is one that you chose yourself and not one associated with anyone else in the family -unfortunately as we have discovered in relation to my father – there are some very good and very dodgy legal people

    • Spend it now and what you don’t spend give it to a worthwhile charity, there are some good ones out there, like the cancer council, and medical research.

  8. I certainly was. My lovely daughter ripped me off as the executor of her fathers estate and did not carry out his wishes

    • How sad when your own child values money above their parent. We bought up all our kids to work for their money and they are all different in their attitude. I am determined that what I have will support me as I get older.

  9. Vivienne Marjenburge do not let your kids bully you into changing your mind it’s your home and your choice as to what you should do with it, I moved into a Village 6 years ago so that I had a little money I could draw on to support my pension and it’s the best decision I ever made for me self. My kids still get what I can’t take with me and for that I’m very happy, likewise they are happy for me that I live in a very safe environment and have wonderful friends here.

    • I think I will end up doing something like this in about five years. My girls are great though.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *