What To Do When Someone Dies (Tas)

When a loved one passes away, it can be difficult to know how to proceed through the grief. The emotional burden of a death can be overwhelming, and the last thing that most people want to do is deal with paperwork. Unfortunately, there are bureaucratic and administrative tasks that the deceased’s family or personal representative must complete to wrap up the deceased’s affairs. This article explains what to do when someone dies in Tasmania.

What you should do when someone dies in Tasmania depends on where they passed away. When someone dies in a nursing home, care facility or hospital, the staff will assist the family with immediate arrangements. If the person dies in their home, someone needs to call the deceased’s primary physician. The doctor who had the care of the person before their death (or who examined the body after death) signs the medical certificate stating the cause of death. The death certificate must be issued in the 48 hours after the person’s death and given to the funeral director to register the death. The doctor may attend the patient or merely explain over the phone how the family should proceed. Depending on the circumstances, it may be appropriate for the deceased to be taken to a hospital or a funeral home. When a death results from an accident or other incident, the Tasmanian police should also be notified. In these circumstances, the Coroner may have to investigate the cause of death.

Registration Of Death

In Tasmania, it is compulsory to register a death with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages within 14 days of the death. When registering a death, it is necessary to know the deceased’s full name (including any maiden name), the deceased’s date of birth and death, their occupation, marital status, parents’ full names and occupations, and names and ages of any children. Usually, it is the funeral director who registers the death following the funeral. In some cases, the Coroner’s Office is responsible for lodging a Death Registration Statement. The Registry will issue a certified copy of the death certificate after they confirm the registration of the death. The executor of the estate is responsible for obtaining a copy of the death certificate to take legal control over the deceased estate. Eligible applicants can ask Service Tasmania for a copy of a death certificate.

Organ Donation

Depending on the circumstances, the family of the deceased may be contacted by hospital staff or DonateLife to discuss organ donation. The deceased may have discussed their preferences prior to their death or registered with the Australian Organ Donor Register. Even if the deceased wished to be an organ donor, it is ultimately the family of the deceased who decides whether to go ahead with the donation.

Notification

One daunting but unavoidable duty when someone passes away is the need to advise family and friends. Some families choose to publish a death notice in the newspaper with a funeral announcement. Someone, such as the executor or family member, notifies clubs and volunteer groups that the deceased belonged to before their death. There are other organisations that need to know of the death immediately, such as the deceased’s employer and certain government departments. The family can contact Australian Death Notification Services or Services Australia to simultaneously notify Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support. It is often also necessary to process a long list of cancellations when someone dies in Tasmania. For instance, the personal representative might need to cancel the deceased’s credit cards, driver’s licence, ABN, weapon’s licence, concession cards, social media accounts, phone, internet and television subscriptions and pet registrations.

The Will

The deceased’s will must be located immediately in case it contains funeral instructions. People often keep their will with their important papers, but it might also be stored with the deceased’s solicitor or in a safety deposit box.

A will states the deceased’s wishes for their possessions after they die and also names a person to act as executor of their deceased estate. This executor acts as the deceased’s personal representative, administering the estate and following the wishes set out in the will. Acting as an executor can be time-consuming and requires a basic understanding of legal and financial matters. For instance, an executor might be in charge of arranging the funeral, applying for a grant of probate of the will, and safeguarding the assets of the estate until they can be transferred to the beneficiaries. If the nominated executor is unavailable or unwilling to act as executor, they can renounce the role.

When the deceased has not left a will, or the will is not valid, the Intestacy Act 2010 governs the distribution of the estate.  In that case, an appropriate person must apply for Letters of Administration to assume the role of administrator of the estate.

The solicitors at Go To Court Lawyers can help if you have any legal questions about what to do when someone dies in Tasmania. The team can help with matters from applying for probate to challenging a will. Please contact our office today for advice on this matter or any other legal issue.

Author

Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first-class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first-class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade of working in higher education, Nicola joined Armstrong Legal in 2020.
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