Step 11 – Deceased Estate Administration Guide
Certifying Death–Related Documents
- Last Updated: August 2023
This step explains everything you need to know about organising essential paperwork and certifying death-related documents, including copies of the Death Certificate, Will and Probate to notify government agencies and companies of the deceased person's death and initiate the Estate Administration process.
OverviewAs you start preparing to deal with Government Departments, Companies and Organisations about the Deceased Estate, you will need to provide specific documents about the deceased person and proof of your identity, depending on their processes to:
- inform them of the death;
- close the accounts of the deceased;
- obtain refunds for pre-paid amounts;
- make a formal request for insurance benefits;
- claim a superannuation benefit;
- request bank statements and freeze accounts; and
- others, depending on your situation.
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11.1 Certify Documents
When dealing with official documents and identification, you will need often need to provide certified copies or present the originals.
At this stage, then, one of your primary concerns would be how to certify documents in NSW or whichever state/territory you're located in.In Australia, the following people are authorised to certify death-related documents:
- Health Professionals: chiropractors, dentists, medical practitioners, nurses, optometrists, pharmacists, physiotherapists;
- Legal Professionals: legal practitioners, patent attorneys, trademarks attorneys;
- People in Court Positions: bailiffs, justices of the peace, judges, magistrates, registrars, or deputy registrars, clerks, masters of a court, CEOs of Commonwealth courts;
- Elected Government Representatives: Federal, State or Territory or Local;
- Public Servants: Federal, State or Territory or Local – employed for five years or more;
- Members of: Chartered Secretaries Australia, Engineers Australia, Australasian Institute of Mining and Metallurgy;
- Bank officers, building society officers, credit union officers, finance company officers – employed for five years or more, veterinary surgeons, accountants (member of ICA, ASA, IPA or CPA, ATMA, NTAA); and
- Ministers of religion, marriage celebrants, notaries public, police officers, sheriffs or sheriff's officers, teachers (full-time) at a school or tertiary education institution.
- Justices of the Peace;
- Notaries public;
- Australian Consular Officers or Australian Diplomatic Officers (within the meaning of the Consular Fees Act 1955); and
- Employees of the Commonwealth or the Australian Trade Commission who works outside Australia.
Note: Many companies and organisations will not return documents submitted for processing; hence, it is always best to provide a certified copy if originals are not requested. This is why it's crucial to go one step beyond the certification of death documentation by also ensuring all copies are certified.
To be safe, it is always good to check with the requesting party, if an original is required and how it will be returned to you.
11.2 Certified Copy of the Death Certificate
If you have completed Step 8 – How To Get a Death Certificate you should have received the original Death Certificate by now.
We recommend getting more than one certified copy of the Death Certificate – around 20 copies is recommended as this is a key document and will be requested by many government departments, companies and organisations to prove the deceased person has, indeed, passed away.
Note: Make sure to keep the original, so further certified copies may be made as needed. Please refer to Step 11.2 above for a list of authorised persons who can certify a Death Certificate copy and other documents.
11.3 Certified Copy of the Will (Where Applicable)
At this stage of the administration process, a certified copy of the Will should be enough to prove that you are the named Executor.
Where a Will is available, you will want to keep a certified copy of the Will. In fact, it is recommended that you make around 20 certified copies to be prepared for any eventuality. Make sure to keep the original so further certified copies may be made as needed.
Where the Will isn't enough, you will have to provide a certified copy of the Grant of Probate. See Step 11.5 below and Step 27 – Grant of Probate Application or Applying for Letters of Administration for further information
Where no Will is in place, the Administrator will need to make copies of the Letters of Administration. See Step 11.5 below for further information.
11.4 Certified Copies of the Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration
A Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration will be needed when dealing with large financial transfers later in the administration process.
Since these are crucial documents in the Estate Administration process, it's advisable to have more than one certified copy of the Grant of Probate. We recommend making several of these as you will most likely be asked to furnish a certified copy of Probate by different companies and organisations you may need to deal with in the course of administering the Estate.
Step 27 – Grant of Probate Application or Applying for Letters of Administration explains this in more detail.
11.5 Certified Copies of Supporting Documents
As you initiate contact with government departments, companies and other organisations the deceased person had dealings with, you will be informed by each organisation regarding which supporting documents they will need from you to facilitate and complete their process concerning the deceased.simplyEstate can assist you with notifying service providers of the death to initiate each process.
11.6 Certified Copies of Proof of Identity Documents
In many cases, you as the Executor or Administrator, will need to provide one, two or three forms of identification. This is to give the party you are dealing with the confidence that you are the person you are claiming to be.
For financial matters such as paying out bank account funds, you will likely need Grant of Probate or Letters of Administration, which is explained in more detail in Step 27.
You are currently on Step 11 – Certifying Death–Related Documents. Other steps of interest may be:< Step 8 – How To Get a Death Certificate < Step 10 – Documentation of Death > Step 27 – Grant of Probate Application or Applying for Letters of Administration
Actions and Decisions to Complete Step Yourself
If you have decided to complete this Step yourself, some actions and decisions may be to:
- Prepare all the key documents and certify copies that you will likely use during the Estate Administration process (see Step 11.1 to Step 11.6 above); and
- Retain the original documents in a safe place in case you need to provide the originals or need to make further certified copies during the Estate Administration process.
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Cost & Effort
Reading: 10 mins
Preparing: 30 mins
Completing: 1-2 hrs
Total: 1:40-2:40 hrs
Effort and cost are general estimates only and are based on the assumption that you complete this step without experienced support.
To find out how this Process Guide works, access the instructions here.
To find out what the capitalised words mean, access the glossary here.
Other forms not listed here may be required based on your specific circumstances.
Checklists & ToolsDownload Australia's most used Important Documents Checklist to find out about the most commonly used documents you will need.
Guidance & Support
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