What to do when someone dies

There’s a lot to do when someone close to you dies. What you’ll need to do depends on your relationship with the person who has died.

Following the death

Check if they’re an organ and tissue donor. You can ask the hospital to check the Australian Organ Donor Registry.

Check for a will and important documents. They’ll help you act on behalf of the person who died and tell you what their final wishes were.

Check there are care arrangements in place for children and dependent family members. This information may be in the person’s will. If care arrangements for a child change, this may affect certain payments.

Check if family and friends know of the death. You may want to ask them to contact other family members and friends. Read about who to tell when someone dies.

Check with us if you can get bereavement assistance for help for either of the following:

Check if the person was in the defence force or was a partner of a veteran. If they were, you may be able to get help with some of the costs or with arranging the funeral service. Check the following websites to see if either of these organisations can help:

Registering the death

You must register the death with the births, deaths and marriages registry in your state or territory. They’ll then issue a death certificate. The following links will take you away from our website.

State or territory Resource
ACT Apply for a death certificate on the ACT Government website.
NSW Contact the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to get a death certificate.
NT Apply for a death certificate at NT.GOV.AU
Qld Visit the Queensland Government website to apply for a death certificate.
SA Apply for a death certificate at SA.GOV.AU
Tas Apply for a death certificate through the Tasmanian Department of Justice.
Vic Get a death certificate from the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.
WA Apply for a death certificate at WA.GOV.AU

If you’re having a funeral, the funeral director will usually register the death on your behalf.

Organising the funeral

If you're having a funeral, you can discuss the following with the funeral director:

  • plans for the funeral, burial or cremation
  • the cost
  • payment.

The MoneySmart website provides helpful information on how to pay for a funeral.

If the funeral home is a registered Centrepay business, you can use Centrepay to help pay for funeral costs. Use our find a business tool to check if they’re registered.

Using the death certificate

It can take some time to get a death certificate. Once you get the death certificate:

  • make multiple copies
  • have the copies certified by a Justice of the Peace
  • provide a certified copy to all the people and organisations who requested them.

To find a Justice of the Peace in your state go to the Australia.gov.au website. You can get your copies certified at most police stations and libraries.

Use our who to notify checklist to help you keep track of who to tell.

You might have to show the original copy of the death certificate with the certified copy.

Finalising a deceased estate

Finalising a deceased estate can take up to 12 months. If it’s complex or contested, it can take even longer.

To finalise the estate, you may need to ask us for information about the person who died, their assets and how much we were paying them.

You may also need to manage their Australian tax affairs. To do this, follow the steps in the deceased estate checklist on the Australian Taxation Office website.

You must tell us within 14 days of getting any money or assets from a deceased estate, if any of the following apply:

  • you get a payment or service from us
  • have an aged care fee assessment.

You can tell us by updating your income and assets online.

Looking after yourself

This may be a difficult time. Remember to take care of yourself and look after your mental and physical health.

Our Payment and Service Finder may help you find health services in your local area.

To access confidential counselling services 24 hours, 7 days a week, call:

  • Lifeline Australia on 131 114
  • Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636
  • MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978.

Call the Griefline on 1300 845 745 from 6 am to midnight AEST, 7 days a week.

Consider your finances. Speak with a Financial Information Services Officer before making any final decisions.

You need to tell Centrelink of changes to income and assets within 14 days.

Read what to organise before you die. You could do any of the following:

  • review your will
  • think about your funeral and how to pay for it
  • register as an Australian Organ Donor
  • make your wishes known to family and friends.

Read more about death and bereavement on the Australia.gov.au website.

Page last updated: 17 September 2021