William and Patricia
In loving memory of their son, Glenn
As part of our 1000 Stories campaign, we reached out to a Victorian-based couple, William and Patricia, who recently had to say goodbye to their son, Glenn, who took his own life at the age of 51.
To experience of the death of a child for any parent is tremendous, especially at an older age. Both Patricia and William are over 75 years old and were shocked to find out that they survived their son. They both agree that it is an unnatural chronology of events that they thought they would never have to endure.
The impact of his death continues to take a strong hold on the couple and the rest of their family. Although they say there is no getting used to life without Glenn, they are still grieving his death even after eighteen months whilst learning about the hurdles of someone passing away without having a Will in place. This story follows William and Patricia’s journey picking up the pieces after their son’s passing.
When Glenn’s family found out about his death, they began looking for the potential existence of a Will at his house. Glenn’s siblings searched for months looking through his belongings, not sure what they would find amongst his personal possessions. They didn’t know if he even had a Will because he never mentioned he had one when he was alive. A blank Will Kit was eventually found. Unfortunately, because it was not completed, it was useless.
The couple engaged a succession lawyer to assist them in the distribution of Glenn’s Estate, a job that would normally be dealt with by the siblings.
Due to the Intestacy laws, the responsibility of looking after Glenn’s Estate fell on William and Patricia. It was very quickly apparent to them that distributing his Estate was not a straight forward process. It took almost every ounce of their energy to sort out his personal affairs and they have only just recently finalised everything with their lawyers, a whole eighteen months after Glenn passed away.
William described it as: “we felt like we had a lot of balls juggling in the air when all we wanted to do is have the chance to grieve. Each little thing takes time, whether it be a call to the bank, insurance company, funeral home – you can’t just come to a stop, you have to keep moving.”
Patricia added, “while we were trying to organise the paperwork, every time someone called to pass on their condolences, it just compounded the reality of his death. However, I couldn’t just stop and process those emotions.”
William and Patricia uncovered many things about Glenn and his life when they were organising his Estate.
Due to Glenn’s depression, they learnt that he didn’t put in a tax return for 12 years which caused some delays with the Australian Tax Office. They relied heavily on their financial advisors to assist in the process which added to their already growing bill of expenses.
The couple were also not aware of Glenn’s assets before he died. They found out he owned his house outright which was eventually passed to William and Patricia through the application of the State’s Intestacy provision laws. However, this process in itself complicated matters even further as William and Patricia were on a pension through Centrelink which was stopped due to the inheritance of Glenn’s assets.
It is important to note that Glenn also had a Binding Death Benefit Nomination through his superannuation fund however he never signed it properly to validate it which caused even further delays.
Once William and Patricia were able to take stock of Glenn’s assets, they conducted multiple round table family meetings to discuss Glenn’s Estate. William and Patricia did their best to leave their son’s legacy intact and spread his assets across the family to ensure everyone was looked after.
William and Patricia learnt many things along their journey however the key learning they would like to share with Australians is to get their Will and Power of Attorney documents completed and updated regularly. Having to go through the process of applying for Letters of Administration and sorting out their son’s personal affairs was a heart-breaking experience that they wouldn’t wish upon anyone. They also want to remind the public about the importance of completing a Binding Death Benefit Nomination correctly as per your superannuation fund’s policies. It is a small task that will go a long way for loved ones dealing with a loss.
Lastly, they encourage everyone to have conversations with their family before they die. It is important for family members to understand your decisions regarding your Estate to reduce the risk of disagreements and disgruntlement after you are gone.
Tips on how to grieve for your loved ones
Glenn’s family, loved ones and friends fell into a depressive state following Glenn’s death. It was hard to continue doing their daily routine, especially during the monthly anniversary of his death. However, they have employed various tactics to help them with the grieving process.
They both agree that people grieve in different ways – William finds peace in visiting Glenn’s grave regularly while Patricia likes to surround herself with photos of Glenn as a reminder of her memories of him.
William mentioned that his perception of reality has been pushed after the death of his son. “All you are left with are the memories and the emotional strain, and that can play on your mind. However, I want to tell anyone going through this process: that is ok. Don’t beat yourself up if you see things differently, no matter how silly they may seem,” William says.
“If you seek professional help for your grief, make sure you find someone you click with and feel comfortable with. Spend the time looking for the right help so that you can readjust your life effectively.”
Australian succession laws can be difficult to navigate at times. Seeking help from a succession lawyer is recommended to ensure that you have the right legal documents in place for your personal circumstance.
For anyone dealing with grief after losing a loved one, we recommend that you contact these organisations:-
Beyond Blue – 1300 22 4636
Lifeline – 13 11 13
Suicide Line 1300 651 251
Don’t wait until it’s too late, contact us today!
Phone: 1800 22 33 90