What to do when someone you love passes away

Handling the death of someone you love can be one of the most challenging experiences in life. When a loved one passes away, complex emotions rise to the surface, depending on the quality of your relationship with the one who died. You may need to adjust to major changes in your life and confront the reality of loss and mortality.

Grieving is a process that takes time. However, if you’re the person in charge of taking care of everything, there are steps you need to take to ensure things are in order, even when your feelings are in disarray.

Here are some essential steps to take when a loved one passes away.

1. Report or document the death

If your loved one is in a hospital or nursing home, the staff can handle formalities and advise next of kin, and the deceased can be kept in the mortuary until it is transferred by a funeral director.

If the death happened at home, keep calm and call the deceased person’s doctor or the police. The doctor will determine the cause of death and write a medical certificate. Note that a doctor’s certificate of cause of death differs from an official death certificate issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages.

2. Check if the deceased is an organ donor

Act quickly if the deceased wished to donate their organs. Hospital staff can check the Australian Organ Donor Register for verification. Discuss the organ donation and get the consent with next of kin to uphold the decision of the deceased.

3. Make funeral arrangements

Check if there’s a will and if there are any instructions or funeral directions. If you’re the executor, close to the deceased, or a senior next of kin, you may be tasked with making the funeral arrangements and administering the estate.

4. Register the death

Register the death of your loved one with the state or territory’s registry of births, deaths, and marriages. You’ll need a death certificate to deal with the deceased person’s estate, claim benefits, and access bank accounts.

Once the registration of death is official, you’ll also need to do the following:

  • Notify institutions: Let government departments, banks, utility providers, and memberships know about the death so you can take the next steps on behalf of the deceased. Use the Australian Death Notification Service to notify multiple organisations at once.
  • Remove the deceased person’s name from mailing lists: Register with the Association for Data-Driven Marketing and Advertising (ADMA) for the ‘do not mail’ service.
  • Deactivate or memorialise social media accounts: If you have access, deactivate or memorialise the social media accounts of the deceased. You may send copies of the death certificate as proof to relevant social media sites.
  • Apply for government assistance: Check the Department of Human Services for financial support eligibility.

5. Practise self-care

Don’t forget to look after yourself during the grieving process. If you’re the executor or estate administrator, you need to stay healthy in order to perform all tasks associated with your role. Get support from friends, family, or mental health professionals if needed.


If this article has inspired you to think about your own unique situation and, more importantly, what you, your family or your business are going through right now, please contact your advice professional.

This information does not take into account the objectives, financial needs or legal situation of any person or business. Before making a decision, you should consider whether it is appropriate in light of your particular objectives. Our news articles contain general information about a variety of topics for your enjoyment. They are of a general nature only and aimed to get you thinking about newsworthy topics. This information is not a substitute for specific legal, financial, insurance or accounting advice.

(Feedsy Exclusive)


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