Legal

Wed, 15 Aug, 2018Basmah Qazi

From $230K to $28 – Grieving widow shocked to find late husband’s super fund drained dry

From $230K to $28 – Grieving widow shocked to find late husband’s super fund drained dry

After Kim Garbutt’s husband, Craig, passed away 10 years ago, his family was expecting a cheque for more than $230,000 in death benefits from AMP – Craig’s superannuation fund. Instead, they received $27.64 13 days later.

The grieving widow was shocked to find that the account had only a small sum of money, when she was under the impression that her husband had left her with $230,000.

“When the account arrived, I was a bit dumbfounded,” she told 7.30.

“Sometime after that I spoke to them and they were saying basically the account had run dry. They went, ‘So sad that he’s died but too bad, the accounts got no money in it.”

Ms Garbutt only discovered the account was $233 in arrears – and that AMP had cancelled the policy – five months before Craig’s death.

Before his death in 2008, Craig had fought an alcohol addiction which put strain on his marriage with Ms Garbutt. Although the two split shortly after the wedding, they decided to stay legally married for the sake of their two children.

Craig, who passed away at the age of 39, was described by Ms Garbutt as someone who was “super smart…he was funny, he liked to dress well.”

“He wasn’t ostentatious, he was bombastic, he was just a nice friendly guy. He was well-liked, he was well-loved.”

While he tried to seek help by attending rehab facilities, in the end he couldn’t rid himself of his addiction. Before he passed away, Craig was using friends’ couches and his car to live out of after his business went bankrupt.

“He was in debt to what we think is $300,000 to $400,000 to maybe six or seven creditors. Phones had been cut off,” said Ms Garbutt.

After investigating, Ms Garbutt discovered that Craig had transferred $1786.55 into the account from his previous super fund in 2003, but in as little as 5 weeks, the amount was down to $1579.29 after he was charged over $207.08 in fees and premiums.

Even though Craig had no further contribution to his account after the initial $1786.55, AMP continued to deduct fees and charges – many of which were hidden.

AMP claims to have contacted Craig before his death to let him know that his account was low on funds and would be cancelled. They advised her that there was nothing more they can do.

According to Ms Garbutt, AMP was not cooperative and refused to speak with her on compassionate grounds, and since Craig’s passing, she has been struggling to compete with the insurance company about Craig’s superannuation and insurance.

Ms Garbutt reveals that while AMP sent her late husband letters regarding his fund, he was seriously ill and was not opening mail at the time.

A spokeswoman from AMP said that the company “strongly rejects” the idea that Ms Garbutt had been uninformed throughout the process.

“At no time were we informed that [Craig] was unwell, and we corresponded with him as early as seven months before his death that he was at risk of losing his valuable insurance,” said the spokeswoman.

“We do allow customers to reinstate lapsed policies based on medical evidence, however we do not allow this where the reinstatement is due to the customer now wishing to claim.”

Ms Garbutt claims to have “begged and pleaded” with the insurance giant regarding where Craig’s money had gone, but AMP remained uncooperative.

“It was ‘Nope, we told Craig it was going to be cancelled’,” she said.

“I went, ‘Craig wasn’t functioning, we wouldn’t have read the letters’.”