Losing someone you love can feel like an overwhelming emotional challenge, accompanied by a daunting list of practical tasks. To help you navigate through the immediate responsibilities here’s a complete checklist for what to organise when a loved one passes:
Contact close family and friends.
Reach out to immediate family members, relatives, and close friends. This will not only inform them about the sad news but also provide an opportunity for communal support and sharing of responsibilities.
Unexpected death at home.
If you are faced with a sudden death, immediately contact 000. If the death is sudden, unclear, suspicious, or if your loved one did not have a regular doctor, it is important to inform the police. In some cases, a coroner may need to intervene to perform an autopsy and determine the cause of death.
Death in a hospital or a residential care facility.
If the death happens in a hospital or care facility, the staff will help you through the process and help you understand what you need to do.
Organ donation arrangement (if an organ donor).
If your loved one was an organ donor, you'll need to act quickly to ensure their wishes are honoured.
Firstly, verify their donation wishes through sources like donor cards or driving licences. You will then need to contact the nearest hospital or organ donation facility. Medical professionals will guide you, requiring details about the deceased's history for organ suitability. Familiarise yourself with the donation procedures and potential impacts on funeral plans to honour their wishes seamlessly.
Funeral and memorial arrangements.
Contact a funeral home.
A funeral home will assist in transporting and preparing the body for burial or cremation. They will also help guide you through many of the upcoming steps. If you're uncertain about which funeral home to contact, consider asking for recommendations from friends, religious institutions, or even a quick online search for local reviews.
If you would like to use Bare’s services for your loved one, call us on 1800 071 176 and we can guide you through the process.
Search for pre-arranged funeral plans.
Look for any official documents or written notes among your loved one's personal possessions. It may also be helpful to consult with legal advisors or close relatives as they might also have information.
Schedule the funeral or memorial service.
When organising a Funeral or Memorial Service, it is important to communicate with any religious or institutional groups that your loved one may have been involved with. It is also crucial to inform family, friends, and acquaintances in a timely manner so that they can pay their respects and offer support.
Register the death.
It is required to register the death with the Births, Deaths, and Marriages registry of the state or territory. Although this responsibility is usually taken care of by the funeral director, you also have the option to personally handle the registration process.
Obtain a Death Certificate.
After the funeral, it is necessary to obtain a Death Certificate, which can be done with the help of the funeral home. It is recommended to get multiple copies as they will be needed for various purposes, such as closing accounts.
Prepare an obituary.
Whilst not strictly necessary, writing an obituary provides an opportunity to share a brief overview of your loved one’s life. This should include important biographical information, details about the memorial service, and instructions on where your family and friends can send their condolences or make charitable donations.
Financial and legal matters.
Locate important documents.
When handling the affairs of someone who has passed away, it is essential to locate several important documents that will assist in the subsequent processes.
These documents include the deceased person's Will, which outlines their final wishes, life insurance policies to determine any benefits or payouts, the social security card for identification and benefit purposes, and birth and marriage certificates.
The deed to the burial property will be necessary for making burial arrangements, and any military discharge papers can be helpful in accessing veteran benefits or arranging a military funeral.
It is also essential to gather financial documents, such as bank statements, property deeds, and other significant papers, in order to understand and settle the deceased person's financial matters.
If your loved one lived alone, it is advisable to ensure the safety and security of their property to prevent unauthorised access or potential theft.
Review the Will.
This legal document will identify the executor, the person responsible for overseeing the distribution of assets and settling the deceased's affairs. If there is no Will, the state's laws will guide the distribution of assets.
Open an ‘Estate of’ account.
To handle the financial aspects of the estate, it is advisable to open a bank account specifically for the deceased's estate. This account can be used to manage bill payments and deposit any incoming funds or benefits.
Notify financial institutions.
You will need to communicate with the relevant financial institutions. This includes contacting the banks where the deceased had accounts in order to manage and potentially close them. Pension providers should also be informed so that payouts can be halted or benefits can be transitioned appropriately.
Notify government agencies.
There are no legal rules about who must be notified when someone dies, however, it is advisable to notify certain government agencies when a loved one passes.
- If your loved one was receiving any government assistance, it is important to inform the Department of Human Services by using the Advice of Death Form (SA116A).
- Inform the Australian Taxation Office about your loved one’s death, either online or by mail, and the executor must also submit a final tax return.
- If your loved one was a beneficiary of the Department of Veterans' Affairs, the death should be reported to Veterans Access Network on 1800 VETERAN (1800 838 372).
Cancel or transfer different accounts and subscriptions, such as email, social media, magazines, and memberships to clubs or organisations. It is important to notify the deceased person's doctor about their passing and cancel any prescriptions at pharmacies. Medical equipment like oxygen tanks, wheelchairs, and hospital beds should be returned. Additionally, all insurance policies, including health, auto, home, and life insurance, should be cancelled or transferred accordingly.
Look after yourself.
During the overwhelming process of organising a funeral for a loved one, it is common for personal well-being to be neglected. However, it is crucial to prioritise self-care, especially once the initial busyness of the funeral has passed and the full impact of the loss is felt.
If you find yourself struggling, seeking help can make a significant difference. Your general practitioner (GP) is a valuable and underutilised source of support and can direct you to professional assistance, such as a counsellor or psychologist, to ensure that you receive the necessary care and guidance during this difficult time
At Bare, we’re here to help. If you ever just need to talk, or you don’t know where to start, feel free to give our incredibly friendly team a call on 1800 071 176. We are available 24/7 to help you through this difficult time.