When you’ve suddenly lost a partner – as I did in 2017 when my husband, Tony, passed away in Bali – help with the practical stuff is a huge assistance. From meals and laundry to cleaning, mowing the lawn and ferrying kids around, the job-list is un-ending and you may – like me – find yourself trying to juggle it alongside massive life decisions, plus trying to keep things as normal as possible for your children. I was sometimes too afraid to ask for help, for fear of being judged as ‘not managing’ – in fact, this is something I still struggle with.
In terms of bringing on trained experts to deal with the admin, though, I knew I couldn’t do it all alone. At the time of Tony’s death I was fortunate enough to have a financial planner that had already set up our policies and insurance cover many years before Tony passed away. He was one of the phone calls I made in Bali, to get clarity and guidance around the process I’d need to follow. Three years down the track I still have weekly conversations with him, as we continue to complete legal issues and tie-up loose ends.
In the aftermath of Tony’s death, I also worked very closely with my bank manager and solicitor to ensure access to our mutual bank accounts wasn’t shut down, activate the Will, transfer all names on legal documents and so on. Fortunately Tony had a very detailed Will, so this was relatively straightforward, and I made sure to update the Will and nominate an enduring power-of-attorney (EPA) in response to my change in circumstances. My accountant also helped me work through all our financial affairs and understand the tax implications of decisions before I made a final choice.
As I moved through my journey towards a fresh start, I then found myself needing a real estate agent. Although I was already in the industry, I chose an agent that was empathetic, supportive, knowledgeable and could connect me with people I needed to get things happening – a maintenance man, building and pest inspector, pool compliance officer, gardener, surveyor and so on. Handily, I used a conveyancer that was based in my solicitor’s office, so the solicitor and conveyancer could communicate easily with each other.
Not every expert was brought on for admin support. We’re now more than three years down the track and I still meet with my counsellor and GP on a monthly basis, in order to check in on my mental health and discuss the past and present – I find this a great way of getting regular support as a single mum of three and now a business owner.
Overall, I’m still amazed there isn’t a government body you can contact with your loved one’s details and an expert then contacts the ATO, Births Deaths & Marriages, Centrelink and Medicare in one foul swoop on your behalf. The need to call them all individually and produce multiple death and marriage certificates makes no sense and is very confrontational.
The fact I had to go through all this means I have a full understanding of the processes required, as well as the right professionals to tap in to. Although my story has been shaped by death, I’ve also been able to provide support to friends and clients that are experiencing divorce/separation and navigating the court system, as well as those going through bereavement themselves. With all my experience, it’s been an absolute privilege to support others as they navigate complex systems with the end-goal of resetting and re-starting their lives – no matter how different that looks to the original dream.