Place of death: What you need to do

Place of death: What you need to do

Most people know that there are number of things you need to do when someone dies. However where that person dies can have a bearing on the steps and process you will need to take. No matter what the situation, the deceased person will need to be registered within 30 days.

This article will go through all the possible places a person may pass away and what you need to do in each particular situation. Knowing these steps will help you move through all the formalities in order to prepare for the funeral ceremony.

When someone dies at home

When someone dies at home (Which accounts for less than 10% of all deaths), the first thing you should do is call a doctor. Assuming the cause of death is known, they will pronounce the person dead and issue a Death Certificate.

If for some reason the cause of death is unknown, suspicious, or violent, they will pass the issue over to the police- which may result in a coronial investigation. In order to proceed with any funeral arrangements, you need to obtain a Death Certificate.

When someone dies at a hospital

Making up the majority of places where death happens, a hospital is well organised to take care of the deceased until funeral arrangements have been made. If the hospital contains a morgue (which it usually does) the body will be kept there until transportation has been organised to the chosen funeral home. If the medical staff cannot determine the cause of death, this may complicate matters as a coronial investigation may be needed.

Death in a nursing home or aged care facility

The facility director will need to know right away, because nursing home or aged care facilities usually don’t have in-house morgues. Once known, the director will arrange transport of the deceased to the funeral home that was designated when signing up for care.

When someone dies overseas

The local Australian authority, often an embassy or commission will be notified. After confirming information from within the country abroad, a next of kin will be notified by a local authority. After this, the procedure will follow out from guidance similar to a death happening locally. Should the death not come directly from an authority, but a 3rd party like press, contact the local consular centre immediately. If you need assistance immediately follow this link to see what emergency services are available.

General things to consider

  • Did the deceased have a Will? The first thing to check for is a will. This will determine the deceased’s wishes (like organ donation or funeral preferences), and if they have designated anyone as being responsible for their arrangements. Any choices with organ donation or post-mortem examinations, however, will always fall with the next of kin.
  • If no, find the next of kin – they will be responsible for the loved one and always for organ donation or funeral arrangements. For same-sex couples, wills are recommended as laws vary with what defines a legal marriage should the deceased person’s family not want to acknowledge the union.
  • What about no next of kin? – a guardian or trustee is appointed. Without family, a coroner from a morgue will work with the Director of Public Health who will have a government contractor that arranges the funeral.