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The value of a heavily indebted home almost came crashing down after the owner died suddenly.

Alice Griffin’s* prestigious property, worth around $2.7 million, had been on the market for a while but it hadn’t received much response.

She had a significant mortgage of $2.3 million that was accumulating interest with every passing day. So a pending sale was essential.
Eventually, a buyer made an offer. Things were looking up. Then, quite suddenly, Griffin died just weeks after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

Unfortunately, as she hadn’t formally accepted the offer on her property, the sale was not guaranteed and so the mortgage continued to accrue.
“Once the owner of a property passes away, the legal personal representative is unable to accept an offer for sale on their behalf until probate is granted,” Equity Trustees, National Manager of Estates Teghan Rawson says.

“That can often take several months.”

This presented a major problem for Griffin’s estate and a legal issue. 

“The sale of Griffin’s property was time critical. The estate needed to be preserved and not further deteriorated by interest repayments on the mortgage.”

As the executor of the Griffin’s estate, Equity Trustees moved quickly and stepped in to resolve the matter.
“In situations like this, the executor needs to be skilled in a specific area of law and know the necessary steps needed to take in order to preserve the assets of the estate.”

Specialist staff applied to the Victorian Supreme Court for an emergency grant to receive the legal authority to accept the offer on Griffin’s property.
The Victorian Supreme Court granted ‘letter of administration ad colligendum bona’ in Equity Trustees’ favour, allowing the organisation to protect the estate’s assets.
Equity Trustees accepted the offer on the property and the mortgage was repaid as quickly as possible.

“If we hadn’t acted so fast, we would have had to wait until probate was granted. We would have lost the property’s prospective buyer and, over time, the mortgage repayments and interest may have accumulated so greatly that they may have overridden any future gains from the sale.”
It goes to show how essential it is to have an executor that is qualified, skilled and experienced to manage and preserve your estate.

“A lay person does not have the kind of knowledge needed to know that there is such a grant that can be obtained in these circumstances, and move swiftly enough on the matter. 

“We had the experience and knowledge to know that there was such a grant that could be obtained. Acting fast increased the value of the estate and the total amount of money made available to distribute to Griffin’s beneficiaries.”

* Name changed to ensure privacy.