15 May 2018
Council on the Ageing Victoria (COTA) has worked with its retired financial counsellor volunteers and service providers to develop a booklet to help guide people about who they need to notify and the legal processes to follow after the death of a partner or loved one.
Death of a Partner: a guide for families will be launched tomorrow (16 May) at the Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages in Melbourne as a part of the Victorian Law Week activities.
COTA Victoria CEO Ronda Held said the volunteers came to COTA with the project and a host of stories from older people facing struggles, frustrations and cost in the face of post-death red tape.
“For some people this is an extremely emotional time, not just because they have lost a loved one but they may have never had to contact service providers such as the bank, their private health insurer, Medicare, the car registration office or utilities providers. Suddenly everything is changed and they are left with that responsibility and no guide as to what to do and when – until now,” Ms Held said.
“COTA’s work in this area has brought us into contact with many families who struggle with post-death red tape and are not sure of how to protect their rights. Such challenges were also highlighted in the recent banking Royal Commission revelations of banks charging dead account holders for financial planning services, in some cases for 10 years after their death.
“In conjunction with our volunteer project leads, and partners such as the Energy and Water Ombudsman, Victoria; the Registrar of Births Deaths and Marriages and the Victoria Law Foundation; we’ve developed a booklet that will help people navigate the system and deal with all the red-tape involved in closing a person’s life. We hope it helps.”
Yarra Valley Water is one such service provider that has already altered the way it works following the death of an account holder as a consequence of participating in the Death of a Partner project.
“We understand that the loss of a family member, partner or friend is a difficult and emotional time and we want to ensure we are respectful of our customers and easy to deal with. We wanted to ensure the approach was in line with our existing customer focused support programs, and appropriately acknowledge the sensitivities required,” said Yarra Valley Water Strategy & Community General Manager David Snadden.
“After extensive collaboration, we have made our process easier by allowing verbal confirmation and the ability to complete aspects online. There is no requirement for relatives to send through a death certificate, which reduces unnecessary delays and distress. Information about what to do in these circumstances is also now available online.”
In delivering the booklet COTA acknowledges the funding by the Victoria Law Foundation and the Victorian Government and of course the work of its volunteer project officers.
“We hope Death of a Partner: a guide for families provides both good quality information and support for systemic reform,” Ms Held said.
COTA Victoria CEO Ronda Held 0450 785 437
COTA Marketing & Communications Advisor Lizbeth Gonzalez 0430 713 059
COTA Media & Communications Advisor Amanda 0407 329 055