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 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’re 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:

Check if the person was in the defence force or the partner of a veteran. If they were, they may help with some of the costs or arrange the funeral services. Check the following websites to see if they 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. Check the details on your state or territory’s Births, Deaths and Marriages website.

If you’re having a funeral, the Funeral Director will usually do this on your behalf. They’ll also discuss any of the following:

  • plans for the funeral, burial or cremation
  • the cost
  • payment - Moneysmart 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 the find a business tool to check if they’re registered.

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.

Use the checklist to help you keep track of who to tell.

You might have to show the original copy with the certified copy. 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 or libraries.

Finalising an estate

It can take around 12 months for an estate to be finalised or longer, if it’s complex or contested.

You need to ask us for information about the deceased person.

It’s important that anyone who got money or an asset and is a Centrelink customer tells us. They can tell us when they report their income and assets online.

The ATO has a Deceased estate checklist that includes the steps you need to follow.

Looking after yourself

This is 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 12 pm to 3 am AEST, 7 days a week.

Consider your finances. Speak with a Centrelink Financial Information Services Officer before making any final decisions. You need to tell Centrelink of changes to income and assets within 14 days.

Consider your own future. 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.

Page last updated: 20 March 2020