Estranged son takes $700k from Qld man
A GOLD Coast financial planner is urging residents to check their wills after a client's beneficiaries were swindled out of $700,000.
Late last year, a 78-year-old Gold Coast man changed his will to exclude his stepson from a previous marriage. It is alleged he had not heard from the stepson since his late wife's death more than a decade ago.
When he died, the man's estranged stepson flew in from America to stay at his house.
Within a week, the financial planner says the stepson had cleared $700,000 from the dead man's bank accounts by using saved passwords found in his computer.
It is understood the deceased man wanted to donate the money to charities and leave some to his sister.
Gold Coast financial planner Felicity Cooper, of Cooper Wealth Management, said they could not find a copy of her client's new will.
"(My client) called and said he had a new will … I said to him to send us a copy - and 1.5 weeks later he was in respite," Ms Cooper said.
"He only had his nurse witness the new will, so it was never witnessed by a legitimate lawyer or someone with a little more credibility in the matter. It was so sad because it was not what he wanted."
Ms Cooper said it was important to ensure wills were written with a qualified lawyer and to make sure a certified copy was sent to other professionals to keep safe.
"Make it very clear to as many people as possible what your intentions are with your money and assets after you pass - it can do a great deal in avoiding situations like this," she said.
"Don't try to do it by yourself, let people know where the copies are and give them to your financial planner and lawyer.
"At our practice, we often have meetings with our clients and their families where we ask everyone into the office so inheritance issues can be clearly and frankly discussed.
"They aren't the nicest conversations to have, but it's important for people to explain why someone might be getting more or less than someone else."
Ms Cooper said the man's family would have little chance of success contesting the will because they did not have a strong claim. Charities could not do anything either.
She said the stepson allegedly claimed the man would have wanted him to have all of the money to pay off loans.