Son must pay dad’s huge Centrelink debt

A MAN who sold his now-deceased Glenorchy father's properties has been ordered to repay the Federal Government a massive $23,000 in aged care pension overpayments.

The son, as power-of-attorney, sold his father's Kingston home for more than $488,000 in 2015 and distributed the money between himself and his siblings, according to an Administrative Appeals Tribunal decision published on Friday.

The older man, said to be living in squalor and hoarding, told Centrelink he received none of the house sale proceeds, hadn't spoken to his son since 2014, and revoked his power-of-attorney.

He made a hardship application on his aged pension, providing evidence the house sale money had been transferred to his son's bank account, with Centrelink back-paying him nearly $10,000 during 2018.

But in October that year, Centrelink found the father had been overpaid the aged pension because the value of his property had increased, and that he owed the agency a debt.

His son advised Centrelink the following month the man had died, before selling his father's Glenorchy home for $206,000 a few months later as executor of the will.

Two days after the Glenorchy sale, the son was told about the Centrelink debt.

The tribunal heard the Kingston home sale proceeds were distributed in accordance with the terms of the father's will.

The son argued a significant period of time had passed since the sale and that he wasn't in a position to pay the debt.

But the tribunal found the father died with enough assets to cover the debt and that his will "specifically provided that debts were to be paid prior to any balance being distributed to beneficiaries".

It found the man knowingly failed to tell Centrelink about the house sale, and that he needed to repay his father's aged care pension debt.

"It seems odd that he did not discuss with his father that by selling the [Kingston] property and gifting the proceeds that his age pension would be reduced," tribunal member Dominique Grigg said.

"It is also unclear, given the duties owed by an attorney, how this could be seen in any way as acting in his father's best interests."

Mr Grigg said he found it difficult to accept the son was "not sure" whether his father agreed to the Kingston house sale.

"The tribunal is not convinced that [the father] would have agreed to the sale of the property and the distribution of the proceeds to his children in circumstances where he clearly needed financial assistance … and when the result would be to effectively reduce his age pension to nil."

Originally published as Son must pay dad's huge Centrelink debt



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