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It took sensitivity and heart to provide one man, who died in tragic circumstances, with the dignity he deserved.

All deaths are heart-breaking experiences for the loved ones that are left behind to grieve. But when the circumstances of an individual’s death are tragic, it’s even harder to pick up the pieces thereafter.

Equity Trustees National Manager, Teghan Rawson, understands the need for executors to show respect and sensitivity following a tragic death all too well.

She recalled one such situation where an elderly client, Joseph*, was found deceased in his home some time after he had died.

“It was quite a sad story, as it took time for his body to be discovered,” Teghan says.

“This is something that is quite confronting and awful for people to wrap their heads around. Fortunately, we have people in our team who are experts in dealing with sensitive situations like this. Their experience meant that we could get into the property and organise a forensic clean quite quickly.”

Joseph was a very private person who lived alone. He had no partner or children, and his siblings lived overseas. So Joseph appointed Equity Trustees as the executor of his estate.

After Joseph died, Equity Trustees tracked down his family and notified them of his death. The company also organised Joseph’s funeral, in the absence of specific wishes about how he wanted the event to unfold.

“His family didn’t know what he wanted in terms of being laid to rest.”

Although some people leave detailed instructions for their funeral, it’s also quite common for much to go unsaid.

“We have the skills and resources required to step in and make respectful funeral arrangements if there are none in place.”

Equity Trustees were also tasked with putting Joseph’s financial affairs in order once he died. This involved sorting through boxes of paperwork at his property, organising complex assets (overseas property and self-managed super funds) and sending off dozens of inquiries to financial institutions across the globe.

“We carefully and methodically worked through many years of financial documents to ensure all assets were accounted for. It was a highly technical process, requiring a great skill set. We were able to access the right contacts and utilise the resources at our disposal to do what needed to be done.”

There’s no doubt that managing Joseph’s estate was a delicate task. “The need for sensitivity at a time when someone dies is often underestimated. People may assume that because we are a large corporate entity our service is impersonal. But that is completely wrong,” explains Teghan.

“The work we do when someone passes away is an intimate part of the life they lived. To us, the job is far more
than just writing off to the bank or selling the family home.”

Equity Trustees recognises that when someone dies, it’s a very emotional time. “Being so heavily involved in the
circumstances following a death is not something we take lightly.”

*Name changed to protect privacy