Estate Administration - What Happens When I Die?

Posted by Malcolm Campbell on 01 November 2017
Estate Administration - What Happens When I Die?

About 90% of people in NSW die in a hospital or institution. A Medical Certificate of Cause of Death is issued and the decease person is kept at the institution's morgue until their next of kin make arrangements for a funeral or contact a funeral director. If you die at a nursing home or an institution that has no morgue, then the next of kind arranges to take the body either to the family home until the time of the funeral or to a funeral home.


When someone dies at home, a doctor should be called to pronounce the person dead and to issue a Medical Certificate as to cause of death. Either the family or the doctor should contact a funeral director and arrange for the body to be taken to a funeral home or, if desired, to prepare the body to be kept at home until the time of the funeral.

Arranging and Paying for the Funeral

As a general rule, whoever organises the funeral must pay the funeral director. However, they do have the right to receive priority of payment from your Estate but only for the reasonable costs incurred. If extravagant costs are incurred then the person who arranges the funeral will pay those extra costs themselves and not be entitled to recover them from the Estate unless the beneficiaries consent.

Most banks will release from your bank account sufficient funds to pay the funeral or cremation costs.

What Does a Funeral Director Do?

Funeral Directors are usually responsible for:

  • collecting the documents required for burial
  • removing the body
  • supplying the coffin or casket
  • preparing the body
  • purchasing the burial plot and arranging for it to be opened and closed
  • providing a hearse
  • arranging a service at a crematorium, grave site, church or whatever is required.

A Funeral Director may also:

  • arrange a pre-burial service
  • provide a funeral parlour or chapel for viewing the deceased person
  • arrange cars for the mourners
  • order flowers and place advertisements

Funeral Directors will accommodate people who wish to do things differently; for example, dress the deceased themselves and have home viewings.