Mum's death leaves siblings struggling

ANNA PEARSON
Last updated 05:00 29/06/2014
Kate and Bryce
STACY SQUIRES/Fairfax NZ

UNDER PRESSURE: Kate, with baby Lauren, Bryce and their godmother Linda Newsome.

Nicky Cockroft
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Nicky Cockroft

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Nicky Cockroft's kids were her world, but when she died, she left them with grief, a house and $175,000 of debt.

The 43-year-old Christchurch woman lost a short battle with an aggressive form of cancer on March 17.

Her children are now staring down the barrel of a $140,000 mortgage.

The day after Cockroft died, and only hours after her body was taken away, the executor of her estate rang Kate, 20, and Bryce, 16, to tell them they would have to sell their family home.

Kate said her mother had told her, and genuinely believed, that the mortgage was about $75,000.

Instead, she found it was double that.

Kate, a solo mother, and Bryce are estranged from their fathers and have few family members. Cockroft also left outstanding utility bills and about $7000 in credit card debt. And then there are her funeral costs of $8500.

Cockroft's best friend and the siblings' godmother, Linda Newsome, has set up a crowdfunding page via Givealittle to try and relieve some financial pressure.

It was unlikely Kate would be able to take on the mortgage while on maternity leave with a young baby, she said.

And even if the house sold, the siblings would not be able to access any leftover money until they were 21 - as per their mother's 2008 will.

Newsome said they would also struggle to find a rental in post-quake Christchurch at a price they could afford.

"I cannot walk away and just leave these kids floundering. Rentals are in high demand [and] she is a solo mum with a young daughter and a teenage brother," she said.

Bryce, a student at Cashmere High School, is working 20 hours a week as a kitchenhand to help with costs.

Kate is struggling over sleepless nights with baby Lauren.

She said her mother was not irresponsible with money, but in future she planned to warn people to "check that you have got mortgage insurance . . . because Mum did not".

Newsome said Cockroft, whom she'd known since primary school, went downhill "rapidly" after her diagnosis in September last year.

She did not have the presence of mind to discuss money before it was too late and she did not have life or home-loan insurance.

"Nicky loved her kids. I do not want it to look like she was a neglectful parent. She was 43 and the cancer was such a shock. It was so rapid and aggressive. You just do not know what is around the corner," she said.

"It has certainly made my husband and I make sure that everything is covered. Are my kids going to be OK?

"Have I crossed by Ts and dotted my Is? I am helping [Kate] as much as I can with Lauren, but I have got my own children who have their own demands on my time. [Crowdfunding] is worth a shot if we can take some of the financial pressure away."

Peter Neilson, the chief executive of the Financial Services Council, said life insurance was something "you do not want to think about", but the alternative was potentially leaving family members in vulnerable positions."

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