Trustee ‘burned through parents’ savings’

 

MELINDA Walsh has endured a nightmarish odyssey since her parents passed away after 55 years of marriage.

Her father died in early 2017 and her mother followed about a year later, spawning an ongoing legal battle with her brother over the estate.

Walsh has also sparred with the Public Trust of Queensland, which she accuses of grossly mishandling her parents' affairs, including spending the bulk of their $130,000 in savings.

Last month, a complaints unit at the Public Trustee confirmed it would review the majority of her claims, which include allegations that her father's valid will was ignored and requests for financial statements went unheeded for two years.

Melinda Walsh and her daughter Marnie on the Gold Coast. Walsh is in a bitter two-year dispute with the Public Trustee over the handling of her late parents' estate. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Melinda Walsh and her daughter Marnie on the Gold Coast. Walsh is in a bitter two-year dispute with the Public Trustee over the handling of her late parents' estate. Picture: Nigel Hallett

Walsh, a sales and marketing executive based on the Gold Coast, also alleges the Public Trustee deliberately overvalued her parents' small prefabricated home at Coombabah for $2.15 million in order to charge higher fees.

In fact, property records indicate it is only worth a 10th of that amount.

The Public Trustee valuation is included in documents which also show that nearly $1200 was charged for "special fees'', testing a smoke alarm cost $349 and monthly "realty management'' fees were debited from the estate.

The property maintenance cost is especially galling to Walsh, who claims the Public Trustee never attended the property, where she discovered a bottle of urine in the sink, bloody carpets, dead insects and overgrown gardens after 12 months of neglect.

The Public Trustee has confirmed it will also investigate Walsh's allegations that it improperly colluded with a prominent law firm before a Supreme Court hearing.

But the Public Trustee has declined to probe her allegation that a social worker wrongly pressured her father to sign a new will and give the agency his enduring power of attorney just prior to his death in the palliative care ward of a hospital.

It has also knocked back her request to review why the Public Trustee withdrew $50,000 from the couple's joint back account only a day before he passed away in April 2017.

"Nothing is going to bring Mum and Dad back now, but (my daughter) Marnie and I are united in our ongoing fight for justice,'' Walsh said.



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