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The loss of a spouse is a life-changing event, but it can be made even harder when they control the family finances.

Mary* had always relied on her husband to manage their finances. But when he died unexpectedly, she was left to deal not only with her grief, but a complex self-managed super fund (SMSF).

Unfortunately super is not included in an estate and Mary’s accountant was not providing the level of assistance she needed. So Mary turned to her executor, Equity Trustees Relationship Manager, Tiziana Reiners, for more help.

Tiziana introduced Mary to Equity Trustees Private Client Adviser, Sandy Wong, to provide some much needed financial guidance.

“When I went out to see her a few times she was very overwhelmed,” Sandy says. “She was also selling her property and buying a new property.”

Her situation is all too common.

More than half of women defer long-term financial decisions to their spouses, putting their future financial security at risk, according to a global survey of nearly 3,700 high-net-worth married women, widows, and divorcees. More than three-quarters (76%) of widows and divorcees wished they had been more involved in long-term financial decisions while married, rather than trying to navigate them through such a significant loss.

In Mary’s case, she was entitled to significant financial assets held in the SMSF through her husband’s valid Binding Death Benefit Nomination, but there were administrative hurdles to overcome.

“He had share holdings all over,” Sandy says. “We had different companies in the registry, and she had to find every single (Securityholder Reference Number) for each.”

To get an estimated balance at the date of her husband’s death, the SMSF’s annual financial accounts also had to be filed. Sandy tracked down the details they needed, fast-tracking the process.

It was the beginning of Mary regaining her financial empowerment.

Sandy explained the intricacies of the SMSF in simple terms, breaking down the jargon to ensure Mary understood the concepts behind the inherent complexity.

With a deeper understanding of Mary’s goals and risk tolerance, Sandy recommended a simpler approach, rolling the SMSF into a more efficient investment platform that paid her an ongoing death benefit pension.

Tiziana also recommended Mary review her own Estate Planning documents after her husband’s death and engaged an Equity Trustees Estate Planning Lawyer, to help.

The ability of Equity Trustees’ team of experts to work together and solve multiple issues quickly eased Mary’s worries, helping her build a solid financial foundation that she controlled

“I think she's coming to a period now that everything's settling down,” Sandy says. “We really focus on the relationships we build to ensure that our clients are taken care of.”

More information about Equity Trustees’ wills and estate planning services is available on our website.

* Name changed to protect privacy.