Arranging a Funeral

What to do when a loved one dies

  • The first immediate steps will depend on where the death has occurred e.g. at home, in hospital or nursing home, by accident, or interstate/overseas.
  • You only need to make essential calls initially.
  • Don’t feel pressured into making immediate decisions before you have had time to discuss your needs with family and friends.
  • Be informed of the many options available before selecting a funeral director.


Planning a Funeral

  • Check for a Will, pre-paid funeral or funeral insurance/bond. Also for Birth, Marriage and Citizenship Certificates.
    • Be informed of the many options available before selecting a funeral director.
    • Request a quote with a breakdown of costs over the phone so you can compare the services offered by a funeral director.
    • Take a family member/s or friend with you when speaking with a funeral director, to help ask questions about options and costs, and assist with making difficult decisions.
    • Most importantly, you should feel comfortable with the funeral director, and be reassured they understand the type of funeral you want to arrange.

Wills, Probate, Estates and Public Trustees

  • Having a Will makes it easier for the family members left behind, to ensure they can follow the deceased’s wishes.
  • If there isn’t a Will, then the law (within each State or Territory) will decide where your assets will go, after your death.
  • Be clear about what are considered to be ‘estate’ assets, as apart from ‘non-estate’ assets, when making out your Will
  • Having a Will allows you to appoint someone you trust to act as your ‘Executor’, otherwise the Public Trustee may be appointed as the ‘Executor’.  
  • The ‘Executor’ will need to apply for Probate, which is essentially official recognition that a Will is legally valid and gives permission to proceed with administering the ‘estate’.

Funerals for Babies, Children and Teenagers

  • For parents it is important that you take your time.  You will need to make a decision regarding how involved you wish to be in arranging your child’s funeral.
  • Your child is unique, so consider how to personalise their service to express their personality and their importance in your lives.
  • Speak to your funeral director about spending time with your child after they have died.
  •  Check for eligibility for assistance from government services.

How much will a Funeral cost?

  • Set a budget and have a clear idea of the type of funeral you want before meeting with a funeral director.
  • Request a quote with a breakdown of costs over the phone, so you can compare pricing.
  • Cremation usually costs less than a burial, except when a grave has been pre-purchased.
  • The person signing the contract with the funeral director will be liable for the payment.
  • Check for eligibility for assistance from government services.

Burial or Cremation?

  • Check if the deceased expressed a preference in their Will or any pre-planning documentation.
  • Cremation usually costs less than a burial, except when a grave has been pre-purchased.
  • Consider your plans for the future and moving locations. You can take cremation ashes with you, whereas this is not possible with a burial.

Coffins and Caskets

  • Options to consider include the deceased’s wishes, contemporary or traditional design, your budget and burial or cremation requirements.
  • Don’t feel embarrassed to ask the funeral director about their lower priced coffins.
  • You have the right to purchase a coffin/casket from another supplier, although some funeral directors will charge a handling fee.

Funeral Celebrants

  • A funeral celebrant can provide guidance in delivering a highly personalised service.
  • They will follow your wishes with regards to spiritual or contemporary content.
  • Celebrants are experienced at composing a funeral service and can assist you with the writing and delivery of a Eulogy.
  • You can contact a celebrant directly, or ask your funeral director.

Funeral Flower Choices

  • A funeral director can organise flowers or you have the option of using a florist of your own choice.
  • Compare the cost and size of the arrangements being offered by different florists, as they can vary greatly.
  • Consider the deceased’s favourite flower or colour when making choices.
  • Inform the funeral director if you wish to take the flowers home with you after the service, or donate them to a nursing home, hospital or church.
  • You may wish to request donations to a charity in lieu of flowers from guests attending the service.

Wake Venues & Catering

  • There are many options available to you for after-funeral venues and catering.
  • There are no rules about refreshments after a funeral service.

Death and Funeral Notices

  • A Death Notice will not include the details of the funeral service
  • A Funeral Notice will include an invitation to attend the funeral service with information such as date, time and location
  • A Thank You Notice is an acceptable way of  thanking everyone who supported your Family

Writing a Eulogy

  • The average eulogy is about 5 minutes long.
  • It does not have to be a biography of the deceased.
  • It should be factual, honest and respectful and convey the personality of the deceased.
  • If in doubt about a humorous comment, leave it out.
  • Ask for feedback from family and friends.
  • Rehearse the eulogy but don’t try to memorise it, as emotions may affect your memory on the day.
  • On the day, go slowly, be calm and take your time.

Funeral Proceedings on the Day

  • Arriving 15 to 30 minutes before the start of the service is sufficient time.
  • It is a personal choice as to ‘when and how’ you wish to greet guests.
  • If it is too difficult to speak, simply thank people for being there.
  • People will not be shocked if you become emotional.
  • Your funeral director is there to assist at all times.

Etiquette for Guests at a Funeral Service

  • Turn your mobile phone off before entering the church or chapel.
  • Do not talk to a companion during the service.
  • Bow your head if you do not want to participate in hymns or prayers.
  • If young children are being noisy, take them discreetly outside
  • Maintain a sober and dignified air at the refreshments after the service.

Preparation of the Deceased

  • A funeral director will obtain your permission before proceeding with the care of the deceased.
  • You can provide clothing for the deceased, and if you wish, assist the staff with the dressing process.
  • If a particular hair style or make up is important, give the funeral director a photograph of the deceased.
  • Embalming is the process of preserving the deceased, and may be required in some circumstances eg more than 14 days delay in holding a service, transportation over long distances and religious and cultural reasons.

The Cremation Process

  • The cremation will usually take place on the same day as the funeral service.
  • Flowers remaining with the coffin/casket will be disposed of before cremation.
  • The coffin’s name plate will be removed before cremation, and placed on the ashes container at completion of the process.
  • If no instructions are received within 12 months, unclaimed ashes are interred within the grounds of the crematorium.

Pet Funerals

  • Choose either burial or cremation for pets of every type.
  • Complete services available with a eulogy and refreshments afterwards.
  • Options available for caskets, grave markers, memorial plaques and storage of ashes.
  • Your local veterinarian can direct you to community resources, such as pet loss grief counselling and support groups.