Death – What needs to be done when a person dies

The information on this page is taken from the Department of Human Services website

Unexpected deaths

An unexpected death happens when a person who appears to be healthy dies unexpectedly. The coroner will try and determine how and why the person died. One of the roles of the coroner is to reduce preventable deaths. To do this, the coroner will investigate unexpected deaths.

To report an unexpected death contact the police immediately, or for further advice (24 hours, seven days a week), call 1300 309 519 and ask for Coronial Admissions and Enquiries.

For more information see Coroners Court of Victoria – Reportable deaths FAQs.

The most common causes of an unexpected death are a traffic accident or work-related fatality. For more information on these topics visit Transport Accident Commission and Worksafe Victoria.

Autopsies and the Coroner’s Report page.

If a death occurs overseas

Go to Smartraveller to get more information about if an Australian has died overseas.

Death certificate or doctor’s certificate

It’s important to note that a doctor’s certificate of cause of death shouldn’t be confused with an official death certificate which will need to be issued by the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in your state.

Organ Donation

If you know the deceased had wished to donate their organs it’s important to move quickly as the process of donation needs to happen soon after death. If the person dies in a hospital the staff can check that the person is a registered donor via the Australian Organ Donor Register (The Donor Register lets authorised medical staff who have permission from the Australian Government check your donation information anywhere in Australia, 24 hours a day, seven days a week). Consent is always needed before donation can go ahead, so it’s important if you are considering organ donation to discuss the decision with your next of kin and those close to you so the decision to donate is upheld. Read more about organ donation.

Registering the death

All deaths in Australia must be registered with the state or territory’s registry of births, deaths, and marriages where the death occurred, and this is usually done by the funeral director. Once this is done a death certificate will be issued, which is needed in order to deal with the deceased person’s estate as well as to claim any insurance, superannuation as funeral benefits (if there are any) and to remove money from the person’s bank account if you didn’t have a joint bank account.

Find your local births, deaths and marriage registry office.

Funeral Arrangements

Are you responsible for arranging a funeral or memorial service? Do you need to make arrangements for the disposal of a person’s remains? The Funeral Arrangements page contains some information which may be of assistance.

Notifying Others

One of the sad but necessary things that need doing when someone dies is to ensure that everyone who needs to know is told and that the funerary arrangements are passed on to those who need to know.

Another task will be to notify various government agencies, banks, utilities and councils about the death. You can find a list of who you need to contact here.

Dealing with estates, insurance companies wills and alike

Often a time consuming and lengthy process, depending on the level of planning and arrangements that the deceased had in place. Information on these and other matters can be found here.

Financial Assistance, Counselling & Other Help