This 3 part blog series is designed to give you some guidance of what legally needs to happen when one of your loved ones passes away.
When a loved one passes away, we are often overcome with shock, loss and grief and while we know there are numerous legal and administrative steps which need to happen, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start.
Firstly, it’s important to remember that you don’t have to do everything alone. You can ask family and friends to help and there is support available from various government and community groups and professionals.
Secondly, you don’t have to do everything straight away. While some tasks may need to happen rather quickly (such as the organisation of a funeral or other commemorative service), others can wait a little longer.
The First Steps
- Doctor’s Certificate – When someone dies a doctor must sign a certificate confirming the death. Funeral arrangements cannot be made until the doctor’s certificate, also called a Doctor’s Certificate of Cause of Death is issued. Once the doctor’s certificate is issued, the funeral director can take the deceased into their care.
- Death Certificate – The next step is to register the death with your state or territory’s registry of births, deaths and marriages. Often the funeral director will assist with this process. The registry will issue an official Death Certificate. The Death Certificate is needed to organise the estate, claim insurance and manage finances. Often the Death Certificate is required by organisations and authorities to prove the death of the deceased. However, you should never hand over or send an original Death Certificate to any authority or organisation as the original is required by the Supreme Court when seeking a Grant of Probate or Grant of Letters of Administration (discussed in more detail in a later blog). In most cases certified copies of the Death Certificate are sufficient for organisations such as financial institutions and government organisations to prove death. Certified copies of the Death Certificate may be arranged by your solicitor or a Justice of the Peace.
Insurances, funeral plans and funeral bonds
Some people have specific funeral insurance to cover the costs associated with their funeral. Additionally, sometimes private health, sickness, accident or life insurance policies may help pay for funeral and other associated expenses. If you know that the deceased had insurance which included funeral cover, or if you are unsure, make enquiries directly with the insurance company.
Some people pay for their funerals in advance under a Funeral Plan. Others may put aside funds to cover their funeral costs often referred to as Funeral Bonds.
At Black and Blanco, we take the time to understand your personal circumstances and wishes and make things easy by coming to you, outside of office hours if necessary and providing fixed fee quoting. Contact us to organise an obligation free 20 minute telephone consultation.