Common Questions

Why have a funeral service?

A funeral is for those who are living – it is a celebration of the life of the loved one who has passed away. A funeral allows everyone who has been touched by the life of that person to have the opportunity to share in that celebration and say their goodbyes.

Who do I contact when someone dies?

Whether a death occurs at home, in a hospital or in a public place, the first person who should be contacted is generally a doctor. Legally, a death certificate must be signed by a doctor or the coroner. Besides family and/or friends, the next person to contact should be the funeral director who will arrange the transfer of the body and begin making the desired funeral arrangements.

 Who else needs to be advised of the death?

Aside from family and friends, there are quite a few organisations that may need to be informed of a person’s death. These include:

  • The Australian Taxation Office
  • Banks and Credit Unions
  • Centrelink
  • Child Support Services
  • Clubs (eg the RSL)
  • Credit Card companies
  • Department of Veterans’ Affairs
  • Australian Electoral Commission
  • Employers
  • Executor of the will
  • Funeral Bond/Insurance/Prepaid Funeral
  • Foreign Pension Authority
  • Health Insurance Fund
  • Health Professionals (eg doctors, physiotherapists, dentist, podiatrist, optometrist)
  • Hearing Centre
  • Hospital
  • Insurance Companies
  • Landlords/tenants
  • Local Council
  • Medicare
  • Local Post Office
  • Professional bodies (eg solicitor, accountant)
  • Public Services (eg library)
  • Public Trustee
  • Local Church
  • Social Worker
  • Superannuation Fund
  • Telecommunication Providers
  • Utilities
  • Vehicle Registration and Licensing Authorities

Who is legally responsible for arranging a funeral?

Legal responsibility rests with the executor appointed in the Will of the deceased. If there is no valid Will, usually the closest next of kin will have the right to apply to act as administrator of the estate and make funeral arrangements.

What is the procedure if someone dies at home?

The first call should be to a doctor or ambulance. The next call should be to the funeral director who will arrange to transfer the deceased to their mortuary. The funeral director is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

What happens when someone dies in a hospital?

The attending doctor will normally be able to sign a death certificate. A call should then be made to the nominated funeral director who will arrange to transfer the deceased and begin the funeral arrangements.

What happens when someone dies interstate or overseas?

The funeral director should be notified as soon as possible so they can arrange the transfer of the deceased, including attending to any statutory or customs requirements.

What about a sudden or accidental death?

If a person in apparent good health dies suddenly or as the result of an accident the State Coroner must be notified. The police are also advised and they must prepare a report for the Coroner. The Coroner’s job is to establish the cause of death, either by contacting the deceased’s doctor or by performing an autopsy. When a death is referred to the Coroner, the deceased must be formally identified. This must be done by someone who knows the deceased.

What happens if there is no body?

This may occur under unusually tragic circumstances like aircraft or shipping accidents, abduction or if the deceased has donated their body to science. In these cases a memorial service can take place to allow everyone to gather together to mourn the death. The use of photos and memorabilia are often used in place of the body.

When should a funeral service be held?

While there is no set time limit on when a funeral should occur after a person’s death, in most cases it is held five to nine days afterwards. This allows enough time for the necessary arrangements to take place and for those who may need to travel to attend.

Should there be a viewing?

A viewing is the time mourners spend with the deceased person after the death and before the funeral takes place. Often a viewing will take place prior to the funeral service, however it can be arranged to occur at any time. While the decision to view is entirely personal and is in some cases not advised, a viewing may provide closure and help family and/or friends to acknowledge that the death has occurred.

Can I participate in the funeral service?

The order, content and style of a funeral service can be varied to suit each family’s needs. A personal tribute from a family member or close friend or the inclusion of appropriate music, readings or poetry may make the service more meaningful. The inclusion of pall bearers is also an opportunity to participate in the service.

Where can a funeral service be held?

A funeral service can usually be held anywhere – a chapel (the Minge Chapel), a church or place of worship, a town hall, a sporting venue, at the graveside or any other place that may have been special to the deceased.

Should I request donations to a charity?

Donations are often made in lieu of flowers. This means that a monetary donation is made to a charity or cause of choice – usually something the deceased person was involved with or passionate about, or related to their death (eg the Cancer Council). Donations are received at the service and then sent on to the charity or cause. The next of kin will then receive notification about how much money was received in the deceased’s name.

Should children be involved in the funeral process?

The death of a loved one affects everyone in the family, including children. With an age appropriate explanation of what it’s about and what will happen, children should be encouraged, but not forced, to share the experience as they need to say their goodbyes too.

What happens with my loved one’s ashes after a cremation?

There are several options for ashes after a cremation. They may be scattered at an appropriate location, placed in an existing grave or commemorative wall at a cemetery or kept in an urn/appropriate container.

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