What to Do When Someone Dies
This checklist is designed to help guide families through what to do when someone dies. It is broken down into the following sections:
- Things to Do Immediately
- Organ Donation
- Prepaid Funerals, Funeral Bonds and Insurance
- Funeral Director
- Funeral Service
- Paying for the Funeral
- Organisations to Notify
- Mailing Lists
- Social Media Accounts
- Grief Support
How to use this Checklist: Each item you need to complete is denoted by a ticked checkbox ( ✅ ). You may find it easiest to print out a copy of this checklist and cross off each item as you go.
If the death is not imminent, also see our Checklist for How to Prepare for the Death of a Loved One.
1. Things to Do Immediately
Death at the Hospital
- If the death occurs at a hospital or a nursing home, staff will arrange for a doctor to issue a Doctor’s Certificate of Cause of Death ✅
Death at Home
- If the death occurs at home and was expected, call your doctor who will issue a Doctor’s Certificate of Cause of Death ✅
- If the death occurs at home and was unexpected, call the police. Depending on the circumstances, the Coroner may be required to conduct a post-mortem to determine the cause of death. ✅
2. Organ Donation
- If you know the deceased is an organ donor, the next of kin will be required to provide their consent for organ donation to proceed ✅
- If you do not know whether the deceased is an organ donor, the next of kin will be required to decide whether or not to donate the deceased’s organs ✅
To check whether the deceased is an organ donor, you can contact the hospital to look up the Australian Organ Donor Register.
If consent to organ donation is provided, the deceased will be required to be taken to hospital immediately so that the donation process can be carried out.
3. Prepaid Funerals, Funeral Bonds and Insurance
Before taking any further steps, it’s important to understand if the deceased had made any existing funeral and/or financial arrangements for their funeral.
- If the deceased has a prepaid funeral, contact the relevant funeral director (and skip sections 4 and 5 below) ✅
- If you are unsure whether the deceased has a prepaid funeral, you will usually be able to find a copy of the funeral plan with their solicitor or the Executor of the will ✅
- If the deceased has a funeral bond, it can be used to assist with funeral costs. A funeral bond may nominate a preferred funeral director, so be sure to check. ✅
- Check whether the deceased had any insurance (such as funeral insurance, life, accident, private health or sickness insurance). If so, call the relevant company to see if they are entitled to a payout. ✅
4. Funeral Director
Preferred Funeral Director
- If the deceased has a preferred/nominated funeral director, contact them to collect the body ✅
No Preferred Funeral Director
- If the deceased does not have a preferred/nominated funeral director, you will need to find a funeral director ✅
Finding and choosing a funeral director can be a difficult task with hundreds of different options, all at different price points and service levels. Our website makes it easy to compare local funeral directors and make the right decision. To start your search:
- Go to www.gatheredhere.com.au
- Select burial or cremation
- Select the type of funeral you would like to arrange
- Type in your postcode and click “Compare”
5. The Funeral Service
- Plan the funeral service ✅
There’s a lot that goes into planning a funeral service, and you will need to make a number of important decisions. Before you meet with your chosen funeral director, it’s sensible to have an idea of the type of funeral you would like to plan. To simplify the process, you can use our Funeral Planning Checklist, which sets out everything you need to arrange and decide on in order to plan a funeral. Also, if you’d like to select a funeral celebrant, you can use Gathered Here to instantly find and compare funeral celebrants, including their fees and reviews.
6. Paying for the Funeral
- Determine who will pay for the funeral. For more information, see Who Pays for a Funeral? ✅
- Identify sources of funds that will help you pay for the funeral ✅
- Set a budget for the funeral ✅
Funerals are expensive. In Australia, the average cost of a cremation is $7,420 while the average cost of a burial is approximately $19,000. If you are working to a tight budget, there are a number of options for more affordable funerals.
Depending on your circumstances, the following funds may be available to you:
- Insurance or funeral bond payouts
- Money in the deceased’s bank account
- Superannuation funds
- Government allowances or bereavement payments
- Bereavement payments for veterans or Indigenous Australians
- Assistance from clubs, trade unions, or associations the deceased was a member of
For a comprehensive guide to payment options, see our article on Paying for a Funeral.
For further information on the types of financial assistance available, see our Guide to Assistance with Funeral Costs.
7. Organisations to Notify
- Notify the relevant organisations using this checklist from the Department of Human Services ✅
For a full list of people and organisations to notify, see our article on Who to Notify of a Death.
8. Mailing Lists
- If you want to stop marketing and advertising being sent, register the deceased’s details on the Association for Data-driven Marketing and Advertising website ✅
- Alternatively, make a written request to the address below ✅
GPO Box 3895
Sydney NSW 2001
9. Social Media Accounts
- Delete or “memorialise” social media accounts by following the recommended procedure in the relevant site’s “help” section ✅
Facebook is the most popular social media website in Australia. Under their website terms you can request for the website to be “memorialised” so that family and friends can continue to gather and share messages on their profile. Alternatively, you can request that the account be deleted if you are a verified and immediate family member of the deceased.
Keep in mind, if you do choose to delete an account, you might lose all of the photos and memories that have been collected online over the years, so consider making copies first.
10. Grief Support
- Seek out grief and bereavement support ✅
During an incredibly emotional and busy time, it’s easy to put yourself last. Don’t forget about your own mental and physical health and wellbeing. Some of the departments and organisations you can contact for help include:
- Australian Centre for Grief and Bereavement
- Australian Government Social Work Services
- Good Grief
We hope you have found this checklist for what to do when someone dies helpful. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or leave us a message in the comments section below.
See the full picture and make fully informed decisions. Move forward in the certainty that your loved one’s memory will be looked after. Funeral Homes are Gathered Here.