A pandemic-inspired lockdown created new challenges when managing an estate, but Equity Trustees provided much needed guidance.
When the pandemic forced Victoria to close its borders in 2020, interstate families with elderly parents feared the worst. Tragically, one family’s fears were realised when both parents died in an aged care facility during lockdown.
John* passed away first and then wife, Cheryl*, died two months later.
“It was really challenging for the children to lose both parents so close to one another in the midst of a COVID lockdown,” Equity Trustees, National Manager of Estates Teghan Rawson says.
John and Cheryl had been Equity Trustees clients for more than two decades before they died. So Equity Trustees stepped in to act as a conduit between the estate and family.
“The family knew us and we knew them. That meant we weren’t strangers and we were able to perform very sensitive tasks on their behalf. That provided them with a sense of comfort in their time of need.”
The couple had only just moved into the facility and still owned their family home. “Their property was their principal place of residence, so when they passed it was full of a lifetime of personal belongings.”
Border closures and state-based lockdowns meant that the late couple’s children – who all lived outside of Victoria – could not attend the property to access their parent’s sentimental items.
“We had one of our colleagues be there on the ground at the property, with the family on the phone, to help the children identify the sentimental belongings of their parents that they couldn’t access in person.”
The couple left behind a $7 million estate, which needed to be managed. Equity Trustees oversaw the sale of the family home when the family was ready.
“One of our staff members actually drove down and attended the auction in person with the family on the phone interstate. That meant the family were involved every step of the way, receiving real-time updates on how the sale was tracking.”
While we may never see another lockdown again, there are always situations that occur in life that are stressful and unexpected.
“In this scenario, there was a COVID lockdown. But in another scenario, a parent may pass when family members are all overseas or there are other stressors facing the family.
“Whatever happens, you can rest assured: we are around for perpetuity. We will always be there on the ground to help out with whatever needs to be done, and we will always act in a personal, empathetic and collaborative manner.”
* Name changed to ensure privacy.