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Quality-checking the advice for new retirement village residents

Posted to Retirement Section on 30-06-2017


Those about to sign up for a retirement village are highly satisfied with the legal advice they receive, and lawyers’ advice is appropriate, the Commission confirmed in its latest monitoring report.

The stakes are high for intending residents, since the decision is a huge commitment that many would not have the financial resources to undo if village living turns out not for them.

As they consider their Occupational Right Agreement (ORA), intending village residents are required to take independent legal advice. This requirement is one of the protections in place by law, and lawyers are obliged to provide their advice and certify that they believe it was understood.

But just how effective is the advice for those about to make their decision? The Commission’s latest monitoring report explores residents’ and lawyers’ views on how robust the advice is, levels of satisfaction, and identifies opportunities to better support both residents and lawyers.

The report’s key findings show that intending residents:

  • Are aware of the requirement to receive independent legal advice prior to signing an ORA
  • See their lawyer only at the point of signing an ORA
  • Understand the information they receive
  • Are satisfied with the legal advice they received
  • Do not want to use a lawyer specialising in retirement villages – most wish to use their usual legal advisor or firm
  • Do not feel they require financial advice, although would welcome tools to assist them to think about budgeting under different scenarios
  • Find disclosure statements overly legalistic, inaccessible and too often duplicating the ORA

Lawyers, for their part, recognise that many intending residents are already psychologically committed to a retirement village. As a result their advice emphasises the cooling-off period and attempts to ensure that family are informed while maintaining the resident’s independence. They would welcome more information, training and resources to better support their clients.

This Commission report is the latest in a series, part of its role in monitoring the effects of the Retirement Villages Act 2003.

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