Case study - Karen's story

“Since Dad passed away suddenly, Mum has been struggling to cope. She’s grieving and in shock at Dad’s passing – she doesn’t want to even think about how to look after the bills and banking. She seems to get more confused every week. It’s heart-breaking to see Mum like this.”


Karen is 52 and lives in Christchurch with her husband and three active teenagers. Both Karen and her husband are still working, saving hard for retirement and to help their children through university.

Last year, Karen’s beloved father suddenly passed away, leaving her mum Elizabeth grief-stricken. Karen’s dad had always looked after the finances and Elizabeth didn’t know where to start in managing things. She’s now 77 and gets a bit confused sometimes. Karen is taking over where her father left off, dealing with the day to day finances like paying the bills, collecting Elizabeth’s super and overseas pension and managing Elizabeth’s investments so she has enough money in her account to pay for expenses.

“Our priorities are helping the kids do well today so they can have the career they want. That means saving for Uni fees, helping with homework and lots of time driving them to activities! But now I find I’ve got another dependent. Mum deserves my care but it’s hard to find time for everyone.”

“Every time there is a problem like the dishwasher not working,
I need to sort that out for Mum as well.”


Given her mum’s situation, Karen is thinking that Elizabeth may need to go into residential care soon. She’s dreading having to sell the family home in order to pay for care. She doesn’t know what benefits Elizabeth may be entitled to, how to get them, or what she’ll have to pay for herself.

Karen’s younger brother Tim is disabled and has relied on his parents to help him manage his life – things like paying his bills, doing his banking, preparing tax returns and making sure the unit he lives in is well-maintained. But with his father gone and his mother unable to manage her own affairs, let alone his, it’s fallen to Karen to look after him as well.

Karen was starting to feel like she would burn out trying to juggle it all.

  • How we helped

    That’s where Personal Assist helped Karen. She met with Priscilla, a Public Trust trustee, and together they worked out how best they could assist Karen to free up her time. Today, Priscilla manages all the financial matters for Elizabeth and Tim – both the day-to-day activities and the unexpected things that need addressing. We also maintain Elizabeth and Tim’s properties, ensuring that the lawns are mowed, the house is cleaned and gardening done. Elizabeth and Tim both now know to call Priscilla (not Karen) when something breaks down and she will get it fixed for them. Karen knows too that, when it becomes necessary, Priscilla will help her best structure her mother’s finances to meet her rest home costs and will be able to advise which benefits her mother is entitled to and apply for these on her behalf. Public Trust will also help with getting the house ready for sale and selling the property.

    “Personal Assist has really helped me to free up my time so that I can spend it caring for my loved ones and creating precious memories before it’s all too late. I even have some spare time now to devote to myself and train for that half marathon I’ve always been keen to run!”

  • Talk to Public Trust now to see how we can help you free up some of your time.

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    about How we helped

  • Talk to Public Trust now to see how we can help you free up some of your time.This case study is based on a real family, but names and details have been changed for their privacy.