What to do when someone dies
It is perfectly normal to be unsure and confused on what you should do when someone dies.
This page offers information on the key steps and processes at a difficult time.
The first steps
Depending on location, we will arrange for the transfer into our care, to our mortuary, of your loved one. If they died in a hospital or are with the Coroner, there is no rush as they will be safe in their care. If they are in a private home or aged care, please call us immediately for advice and assistance.
When someone passes there are a number of medical certificates needed. When we receive the first call from you to arrange a funeral for a loved one we will find out who the appropriate doctor is (or liase with the State Coroner) and start this process. It can take a number of days to arrange these documents. If they are in a private home or aged care, a suitable person must certify their passing. Please call us to discuss.
During our initial discussion over the phone we will usually ask for an email address to send you a planning form link. This will outline your funeral contact with us and direct you to our online planning form. We encourage the use of this form as it makes arranging the death certificate and funeral a lot less stressful. Things like the type of service, day and location are often discussed over the phone so that when we meet there is a lot of the planning already done.
Whatever the type of service you want, we will work with you during the arrangement and on the day of the service to ensure things run smoothly. Once the service is complete we register the death with Births Deaths and Marriages. We will at this point email you the final invoice, a proof copy of the death certificate to check and our aftercare consultant will be in touch regarding all other matters.
WHAT TO DO WHEN SOMEONE DIES
The important thing to remember....there is no rush. Take your time. Read this page and then call us to discuss your situation.
Here are some steps to help guide you through the many things you'll need to do after a death occurs.
When a death occurs we encourage you to call us straight away and we can advise you on what to do next and the process involved. We are here to help 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
- Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
- What to do when someone dies at home
- What to do when someone dies in hospital
- What is the role of the Coroner?
- Registering a death
- Arranging a funeral service
Medical Certificate of Cause of Death
Whether someone dies at home, in a nursing home or in hospital, a doctor will issue a Doctors Certificate of Cause of Death. This together with other documents, depending on whether it is a burial or cremation, are needed to arrange permits and authority to act. Things are a bit different if the person has died unexpectedly, as the State Coroner may need to be notified. In these cases it can take longer for the funeral to take place as a Coroners authority needs to be issued.
What to do when someone dies at home or aged care
If the person has died at home or in a nursing home, a doctor or suitably qualified person will certify 'life extinct'. (The deceased's usual treating doctor will be contacted by us to arrange the required legal paperwork). Once a person has been legally certified a having passed you can contact us to arrange transfer from your home or the nursing home, and we will bring them into our care until the day of the funeral. You are welcome to call us immediately when someone has passed but until they have been seen by a doctor or suitably qualified person, we are not able to collect them.
What to do when someone dies in hospital
If someone has died in a public hospital and the death was expected, the doctor will issue a medical certificate of cause of death together with any other required documents. During this time the person who has died will be kept in a secure hospital mortuary until the documents are ready.
Once the documents are ready, we will be able to collect your loved one and bring them into our care. Please call us when they have passed so we can let the hospital know we are your chosen funeral director, as hospitals don't call funeral directors to inform us usually.
Different documents are needed for burial and cremation so it helps to have made this decision when you talk with us.
If someone has died unexpectedly in hospital, the hospital may need to refer the deceased to the State Coroner for review or a post-mortem examination to determine the cause of death. We will talk you through this process and what to do in this instance.
What is the role of the Coroner?
The State Coroner will investigate the cause of death if someone has died unexpectedly. A doctor or police will contact the coroner to begin their investigation, where a post-mortem may need to take place to identify the cause of death. The Coroner doesn't have to ask the next of kin's permission to conduct a post-mortem. Once this is complete and after we have submitted a next of kin form, we will be able to collect the person who's died and bring them into our care until the day of the funeral.
This process usually is about 5 working days but can vary up to 4 weeks if a clear determination is not made.
How to register a death
As part of our funeral arrangement we collect all information on registering a death with Births Deaths and Marriages SA. The Registrar will need to know some details about the person who has died and will be provided with documentation from us and the doctor/coroner before they can issue a certificate.
A certificate is issued by Births Deaths and Marriages usually up to three weeks following the registration of a death. A death cannot be registered until the actually burial or cremation has taken place. For coronial cases, an interim certificate is issued with a final issued usually 12-18 months later.