Someone has died, what do I do?
We understand death affects everyone differently. From the person who’s passed, immediate and extended family through to friends, neighbours and colleagues.
Remember, be gentle with yourself. Give yourself time in the moment, saying goodbye your own way. There is no rush and when you are ready, we are only a phone call away to guide you through the process of bringing your loved one into our care.
From the moment you’re faced with death you will likely have questions. Is there a procedure I should follow? Who do I tell? What do I do now?
Because of this, we have compiled this simple checklist.
Checklist of options, procedures and information that may be helpful.
EXPECTED DEATH AT HOME
A doctor or palliative care nurse will need to attend an issue either a medical certificate cause of death or a verification of death.
Once this paperwork is complete we can be called to arrange to bring the deceased into our care.
UNEXPECTED DEATH AT HOME OR OTHER PRIVATE PLACE
When an unexpected death has occurred, the police will need to be called and attend the property.
The circumstances surrounding the death will determine whether a doctor is able to issue a certificate or whether a state-contracted mortuary transfer company will attend and take the deceased person to be assessed at a Forensic Medicine Centre. We then liaise with the Coroners' office to arrange paperwork and transfer the deceased into our care.
DEATH IN A HOSPITAL OR NURSING HOME
When a death occurs in a hospital or nursing home the care staff will arrange for a doctor to issue a medical certificate, they can also call us to arrange transfer of the deceased into our care.
ORGAN AND TISSUE DONATION
The Australian Organ Donor Register is a central location where an individual's wishes can be nominated. When organ donation is viable the next of kin will need to give consent to proceed, even if the person is on the register.
WHO DO I TELL / NOTIFYING FAMILY & FRIENDS
Making these calls are never easy. You may need to call family, friends, colleagues, or neighbours. Notifying people can also be done by text or email if easier, reaching out can also support you through the grieving process.
If there are dependants it is crucial to ensure they are immediately taken care of both physically and emotionally. Locating a will can determine the deceased wishes for long term care of their dependents. It may be helpful to contact local solicitors to assist in these proceedings.
Oftentimes when a death has occurred there are many things to think about. Animals are often overlooked. If you are aware of a pet or animal residing within a household of someone that has passed it is necessary to ensure that they are taken care of and placed into the care of an appropriate carer or rescue association.
FUNERAL PRE-ARRANGEMENT, BONDS, INSURANCE ETC
It is important to ascertain if the deceased has made any prior arrangements for a funeral service. This may be in the way of funeral insurance, funeral pre-paid bonds or pre-arranged with their personalised wishes.
Usually, these documents would be stored with other important paperwork such as a will, financial and medical records. You may find it helpful to contact local solicitors to see if they have any such documents on hand, keeping in mind you will need to be the next of kin/executor to gain access and copies of these records.
CHOSEN FUNERAL DIRECTOR
If a death was imminent, it is likely that a chosen funeral director has already been mentioned to family or friends. Where no prior choice has been made by the deceased this choice becomes up to the next of kin to appoint a company they trust.
There can be many ways to select the right funeral provider for you, depending on your priorities and wishes. We encourage everyone to consider the following points.
How have others described their experience with the funeral provider?
How easy is it to obtain clear information and pricing, without being coerced?
Does the funeral home provide the level of products and services you are after?
Once a decision has been made it is as simple as calling and giving verbal consent. This enables the chosen funeral director to liaise with hospitals and other associations on your behalf and arrange the transfer of your loved one into their care*.
PLAN THE FUNERAL OR MEMORIAL SERVICE
Discussing options, you’d like is the first step to planning. During the arrangement with your chosen funeral director, you will be given expert knowledge and advice regarding your options.
The information you provide is used to determine particulars, and our job as professionals is to plan and coordinate a service that fits your wishes perfectly.
It is important to note, whomever arranges the funeral or memorial service is also responsible for payment of the account unless otherwise specified.
PAYMENT OF FUNERAL EXPENSES
You may like to identify fund sources to help pay for the funeral expenses prior to meeting with a funeral director to put your mind at ease.
It is also a good idea to have a budget in mind and know what inclusions you would like. By doing this you can gain a detailed, itemised quote with all your choices included.
Depending on circumstances, you may have access to certain funds to pay for funeral expenses, such as;
Money held in the deceased bank account
Insurance and funeral bonds / pre-paid funeral funds
Bereavement payments and allowances
Veterans Affairs bereavement payments
ORGANISATIONS TO NOTIFY
From financial institutions to electoral roles there are many organisations you may need to notify once someone has passed. The Department of Human Services has created a list to help you with this step.
WILLS AND ESTATES
A valid will and appointment of a sound executor ensure the wishes of the deceased will be respected and their assets divided as they see fit. If an estate is large or contains many assets the need to apply for probate may become necessary. There is no statutory requirement to obtain probate in every case. If you are unsure a solicitor may be able to offer advice regarding the circumstances.
Grief can be overwhelming; you don’t have to deal with it alone. We understand it can be especially hard to return to a ‘normal’ life after death. There are a vast number of options and providers to reach out to in times of bereavement. We have compiled a list of resources and they can be found on our Grief Support page.
Enduring Power of Attorney – Ability to make financial and legal decisions on behalf of a living person.
Enduring Guardian – Ability to make decisions on lifestyle matters, health, and welfare of a living person.
Executor - appointed to act on behalf of a deceased person in a will to manage, administer, distribute and finalise the estate in accordance with the will.
Next of Kin – Is commonly referred to as the persons nearest living relative. This can be a spouse (including same-sex spouse) de facto partner, adult children, living parents, adult brothers or sisters, the executor or the deceased person's legal representative.