What to do following a death
We provide payments, counselling and financial services to help people adjust to life after someone close to them has died.
What happens first
When someone dies, a doctor must sign a certificate that confirms the death. Funeral arrangements cannot be completed until the doctor has signed and issued this certificate. It is generally called a Doctor's Certificate of Cause of Death. The funeral company can then take the deceased into their care.
The funeral director in charge of the funeral arrangements will collect all the information needed for registering the death and send it to the relevant state or territory government office. The funeral director may also help with things such as newspaper notices, flowers and religious services.
Read more about who to contact on the Australian Funeral Directors Association website.
If a funeral director is not involved with the funeral arrangements, the person who manages the final arrangements for the deceased is responsible for registering the death.
Insurance policies, funeral plans and Wills
Sometimes private health, sickness, accident or life insurance policies may help to pay funeral and other expenses. If you find that the person who died had insurance, call the company and ask if assistance is available.
Some people pay for their funerals in advance. Funeral plans involve paying in advance for an agreed funeral service. Funeral bonds represent money the person has put aside to cover their funeral costs.
If you think there may be a prepaid funeral or a funeral bond but cannot find the paper work, it may have been left with someone such as a solicitor or the Executor of the Will.
A Will is a legal document that states how the deceased person's belongings are to be distributed after their death. The Executor of the Will is responsible for distributing the person's assets to the people named in the Will. This happens after any debts are paid.
If the person has not left a Will, the estate is shared under a formula set by law. If there are no close relatives there is a chance the estate could be paid to a state or territory government.
Who to notify
It’s important that you tell us when someone has died so we can update their Centrelink and Medicare records.
To tell Centrelink:
To tell Medicare:
- call the Medicare general enquiries line
- complete the Notification of deceased person form and post it to us
There are other people and organisations that you may also need to tell. Use the following checklist to help you identify the people and organisations you may need to contact:
Removing someone's name from mailing lists
Register the details on the Association for data-driven marketing and advertising website or write to them at:
GPO Box 3895
Sydney NSW 2001
Social media accounts
Social media networks usually have procedures in place to deal with the accounts of deceased members. As these procedures can differ between networks the best thing to do is to search the 'help' section of the network in question if you wish to close an account.
Assistance from us
Read about eligibility and how to start the claiming process for the following payments and services:
- Bereavement Allowance - a short term income support payment for recently widowed people to help them adjust after the death of their partner
- Bereavement Payment - helps ease your adjustment to changed financial circumstances after the death of your partner, child or person you were caring for
- Double Orphan Pension - provides help with the costs of caring for children who are orphans or who are unable to be cared for by their parents in certain circumstances - there is no income or assets test required
- Pension Bonus Bereavement Payment - a payment to the surviving partner of a deceased member of the Pension Bonus Scheme, who did not make a successful claim for the bonus before their death
- Widow Allowance - ensures women have an adequate income if they have become widowed, divorced or separated later in life, were born on or before 1 July 1955 and have no recent workforce experience
- Social work services - our social workers can help you during difficult times by providing counselling, support, and information
- Financial Information Service - a free, confidential service available to all Australians to help you make informed decisions about investment and financial issues for your current and future needs
- Someone else to deal with us on your behalf - if you would prefer to have someone else deal with us on your behalf about our payments and services, you can authorise a person or organisation to be your nominee or make enquiries only
Read more about Bereavement Payment or call 136 150
After the death of a loved one, you may need to understand more about the investments you own. When a member of a couple dies the survivor usually inherits assets previously held in joint names. You should advise us of any changes to your income and assets as they may impact any payment you receive or become eligible for.
If your partner had superannuation you may also be entitled to a superannuation payment. You need to contact the relevant superannuation organisation and find out if you could be eligible for any payments.
You should also carefully consider the implications of passing on assets to children or other family members and friends and bypassing yourself, as this can affect your asset position and may result in changed payment rates.
Relatives and friends do not have to pay the debts of the person who has died unless the debts are in joint names. Debts can be paid from the estate.
If you would like assistance to work out a budget, manage your financial affairs or help if you are in financial trouble, you can speak to a financial counsellor by contacting any of the following:
- your local Community Information and Referral Service
- a Welfare Rights Centre
- Rural Financial Counselling services
- Financial Counselling Australia
- Financial Information Service
Early superannuation release
Superannuation cannot generally be accessed before you reach your preservation age. However, in some specific circumstances, the law does allow you to access your superannuation early. These limited circumstances include specified compassionate grounds and severe financial hardship.
Read more about the early release of superannuation on compassionate grounds, call 1300 131 060, or contact your superannuation fund.
For more information about early release of superannuation for severe financial hardship, contact your superannuation fund.
Support for you after someone has died
Grieving is a natural part of losing someone close to you, so adjusting to your new circumstances may take time. Counsellors can often assist people who are grieving. Our social workers can refer you to grief counselling. Counsellors can also be contacted through organisations such as community health centres, the National Association for Loss and Grief or Lifeline.
It may seem difficult at first to take part in social groups and activities. You may or may not want people around you. With time, the company of others may help you develop new interests. Your local council, community health centre or our social workers can put you in touch with organisations such as Rotary or Apex that would value your assistance as a volunteer. You can also join in their activities and outings.
Taking care of your diet and regular exercise can assist you to re-establish a routine. We can arrange for visits by a community nurse if necessary. Community groups or local councils may arrange services to help care for your house or garden. Some of these services are free and some may be provided only after your needs have been assessed.
You may want to stay in your family home. However, if this is difficult, think about all the options carefully before you decide on a change. Moving too quickly may not be the best solution.
You can talk to a Financial Information Services officer who can give you information about how any decisions you make could affect the payment you receive from us.
Other government and community support services
There are a range of other organisations that provide support services and useful information you may find helpful. You can use Service Finder to locate assistance in your local area.
MoneySmart has information to help you make the most of your money. Read the Losing your partner section on the MoneySmart website.
Financial Counselling Australia is the peak body for financial counsellors in Australia and provides information about how financial counsellors can support and advocate for people experiencing financial difficulty.
Headspace is the national youth mental health foundation and can help young people who are going through a tough time.
If you are experiencing depression, anxiety or stress, you may find it helpful to talk to somebody about your mental health.
Lifeline is a national charity providing all Australians experiencing a personal crisis with access to 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention services.
Solace Australia provides support for people who have lost their partner.