The Public Trustee provides vital services to the community. Originally established in 1915 to provide specialised wills, estate planning and trustee services, the Public Trustee has provided trustee services to generations of Tasmanians.
Over the years, the role of the Public Trustee has evolved and grown to include additional services to meet the needs of the community.
Today the Public Trustee continues to assist people prepare wills, enduring powers of attorney and enduring guardianships. We also act as executor, attorney, trustee, or financial administrator.
Our clients move through different phases of their life utilising some or all our services.
Over the last ten years, an annual average of 600 people have come to the Public Trustee to prepare their estate planning documents. Our role in respect of a deceased estate is to administer a client’s estate in accordance with their will. We have administered an average of 265 deceased estates per year for the last ten years.
Recently, there has been commentary around our role as financial administrator. This service helps people manage their financial affairs.
This is an area of Public Trustee activity that many in the community are not familiar with and one that has been under review. Let us explain our role.
At times in life a person may need assistance with their financial affairs. This may be due to disability which may include acquired brain injury or an age-related illness like dementia. Without support this person’s best interests may not be met, or they are vulnerable to exploitation.
We are appointed by the Guardianship Stream of the Tasmanian Civil and Administrative Tribunal (TASCAT) to represent a person regarding their financial affairs. The Guardianship stream has legislative power to determine that a person has a disability and requires ongoing assistance to manage their financial affairs. The Guardianship stream can appoint a financial administrator, like the Public Trustee, to carry out this function.
The Public Trustee’s authority as a financial administrator is to manage some, or all the financial and legal affairs of a person with a disability. For example, a represented person may not be able to budget effectively to meet their day-to-day needs, adequately insure their car or possessions, or pay everyday bills.
Currently we assist around 1,300 Tasmanians to manage their financial affairs.
Our dedicated and professional staff consult with the client, and their support network to make decisions that are in the best interests of the person concerned.
Following appointment our first contact with new clients is by phone or interview. At this point we are discovering personal information about the client to assist us manage their financial affairs.
We provide our financial administration services across the term of TASCAT’s order appointing us. The services are tailored to each client’s specific needs. Some clients require low levels of interaction with us whilst others may require day to day service.
The Public Trustee continues to put in place revised systems, operations and staff training to ensure we provide the best outcome for our clients. We are working on better communication with clients and stakeholders, to ensure the role of the Public Trustee is understood and we add value to a person’s life.
In response to stakeholder complaints concerning practices of the Public Trustee, the Government commissioned an independent review of the operations of the Public Trustee by Mr Damian Bugg AM QC.
We saw the Bugg Review as a welcome opportunity to take stock of what we are doing well and look at ways to improve our services, especially the way we support vulnerable members of the community. We are currently evaluating the recommendations of the Review and how these can be implemented to improve the lives of our clients.
We will work closely with clients, stakeholders and Government, to implement the recommendations. It will require all parties to work together through what will be a complex set of changes. These changes will involve reviewing the resourcing of the Public Trustee to ensure we can meet the changing expectations of the community.
The Public Trustee provides vital services to the community. We will continue to support the most vulnerable in our community by providing ongoing support to those who require assistance to make financial decisions.
We look forward to building on the Public Trustee’s strategy as we move into our next phase of corporate planning. We have been provided with important feedback that will act as a guide in how we shape and deliver our services, and work with clients, stakeholders, government, and the community.
Our new CEO, Mr Todd Kennedy, was recommended by the Board to Government due to Mr Kennedy’s commitment to the ongoing development of a contemporary, client-centric Public Trustee focussed on servicing the changing needs and expectations of the Tasmanian community. Mr Kennedy commences on 17 January 2022.
We look forward to keeping you updated on progress.