4 Feb 2010

Mother may sue trust over son's dying wish

7:13 pm on 4 February 2010

A New Plymouth woman may sue the Public Trust because her son was cremated before his dying wish could be carried out.

Jonathan Fowler, who died in December, had requested in his will that his tattoos be preserved. His mother, Julie Fowler, says the trust failed to honour her son's will by not informing her of his wish.

The Public Trust is the Crown Entity that drafts wills and manages estates.

Mrs Fowler says one of its managers, Kevin Nicholson, has apologised to her and promised an internal review of its procedures - but that's a waste of time, she says, because it's too late.

She says it's a public issue that needs addressing, because the system is clearly not working.

Mrs Fowler is demanding an independent inquiry into the organisation and is considering legal action.

Isolated incident, says trust

The chief executive of the Public Trust, Grenville Gaskell, admits the trust made a mistake, but says it was an isolated incident during the holiday period.

Mr Gaskell says the estate was handled by a senior advisor with little experience in that area.

He says the trust, which deals with more than 2000 estates a year and has a high level of customer satisfaction, has apologised to the family and started an internal review of its procedures.