Losing a loved one is never easy, but it can be even more difficult if they pass away at home. Whilst this can be the most peaceful option for the deceased, it can leave those left behind with legal responsibilities, admin and shock to navigate- especially if someone dies suddenly.
Knowing what to do in this situation can help you support a friend, or stay calm if a family member passes away at home.
From reaching out to a palliative care team, obtaining a doctor's certificate and answering questions on how to pay for the funeral or administer their estate- this blog post covers everything you need to know following a death at home.
Contact medical professionals
If someone dies at home, it's important to reach out to medical professionals to seek support on what to do next.
If the deceased had been under the care of a doctor or a palliative care team, you should contact them for specific guidance and advice on what to do next.
If not, you can contact the person's doctor or local medical service for help. They will be able to confirm the death and sign off on the death certificate.
An unexpected death at home can be an overwhelming and stressful situation, so having emotional support from other family members and close friends can also be important at this time.
Depending on relationships to the deceased and the cause of death, it might be a good idea to reach out to immediate family and friends by also contacting them straight away.
2. Contact a funeral director
Next on the contact list, a funeral director can help make arrangements for transporting the body of the deceased.
At this stage, the funeral director can also help guide you through the process and aftermath of experiencing a death at home.
This covers everything from immediate services, to providing information on the funeral costs and options. Funeral director choice and the specifics of what they will arrange for you will vary depending on which type of funeral you want to hold.
If the deceased person had a Will, it's also important to consult this straight away for any wishes left by the deceased person on funeral arrangements they would like.
3. Registering the death
Before making funeral arrangements, you should register the death with the Registry of Births, Deaths, and Marriages in your state or territory. This should be done within 7 days after someone dies.
Whilst the funeral director can provide guidance on paperwork, you will also need to consult with the medical professionals to confirm the deceased person's details and cause of death, as well as finalise a medical certificate.
Obtaining the death certificate is one of the first pieces of paperwork to undertake after a person's death.
Registering the death is crucial to obtaining this valid death certificate, which ultimately enables you to administer the deceased's estate, and obtain access to the person's bank accounts, superannuation, and other financial accounts.
4. Notify relevant organisations
As well as wider family and friends, you will also need to notify relevant organisations on your loved ones death.
These organisations may include the person's employer, financial institutions, and government agencies such as the Australian Taxation Office.
5. Administer the person's estate
If the person had a Will, you need to locate the executor named in the Will. The executor will be responsible for dealing with the person's estate- including carrying out their wishes and distributing remaining assets to intended beneficiaries.
If the person did not have a Will, you will need to apply for letters of administration to deal with the estate. As an immediate family member, this role typically falls to the next of kin.
Seeking support from an estate lawyer at this time can help ensure you have all required legal documents to register for the Administrator role, and undertake the process of distributing the estate.
6. Consider grief support services
Whilst there's a lot of admin to deal with, paperwork to sign and things to arrange after a person dies- it's also important to look after yourself.
Experiencing grief is a normal and natural response after a loved one dies, and this can be especially true with an unexpected death.
Once the business of the funeral service organisation and handling of the deceased person's estate has calmed- these feelings of grief can start to sink in within the months after someone dies.
Taking care of your emotional and physical health at this time can take the form of seeking grief counselling services, mental health support services, or getting support from friends and family. This can be a distressing time, and it's important to seek further advice and support from those around you.
Dealing with the death of a loved one can be challenging, but taking practical steps can help make the process more manageable. Contacting the relevant organisations and medical staff after someone dies can help make the process less stressful in the immediate aftermath of a death at home.
From there, you can take steps to liaise with a funeral director to help make arrangements for transportation of the body and cremation or burial plans.
Assuming there is no pre-paid funeral plan in place, this can involve thinking about how to pay for the funeral and arrange associated details quite soon after the death.
On top of grief, this can be a lot to deal with. Finding an experienced and compassionate funeral director can help make this time easier, as well as save you unnecessary expenses.
You'll also need to consult the deceased's Will to align the funeral plan with their wishes, and obtain further information on how to proceed with handling their estate.
As time goes on, it's also important to support yourself. This could be through reaching out to grief support services, such as counselling or human services, or seeking advice and support from family around you.
Safewill offers an affordable, compassionate and flexible service to help you plan a direct cremation or deal with estate administration after a person's death.
Whether it's cremation arrangements, funeral service or legal documents for if the person died intestate- we provide expert support on what to do after someone dies.
Call us on1300 730 639, or via livechat now, to speak to a dedicated funeral director or expert estate lawyer- opening discussions on how we can support you and your needs, on a timescale which suits you.