What to do when a loved one 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.

We have information in different languages about What to do when a loved one dies

Following the death

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

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. You need to tell us within 28 days when someone dies if they get a payment from us. We can then update our records to ensure they don’t get an overpayment. There are other people and organisations you’ll also need to tell. 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 a partner of a veteran. If they were, the defence force 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. The following links will take you away from our website.

State or territoryResource
ACTRequest a death certificate on the ACT Government website
NSWContact the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages to get a death certificate
NTApply for a death certificate at NT.GOV.AU
QldVisit the Queensland Government website to apply for a death certificate
SAApply for a death certificate at SA.GOV.AU
TasApply for a death certificate through the Tasmanian Department of Justice
VicGet a death certificate from the Victorian Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages
WAApply 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.

You can get your copies certified at most Police stations and libraries or with a local Justice of the Peace.

Use our 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 an estate

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

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

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

The Australian Taxation Office has a deceased estate checklist on their website that includes the steps you need to follow.

Looking after yourself

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

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

  • call Lifeline Australia on 131 114 or visit the Lifeline website
  • call Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636 or visit the Beyond Blue website
  • call MensLine Australia on 1300 789 978 or visit the MensLine website.

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

Consider your finances. Speak with a Financial Information Services Officer before making any final decisions. You need to tell us about 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: 29 April 2024.
QC 60103