Step 2 – Deceased Estate Administration Guide
Notifying Family & Friends of a Death
- Last Updated: August 2023
This step explains who you should notify of the death as a priority and why getting access to the deceased person's home or residence as the Executor or Administrator is important.
OverviewAfter interim arrangements were made for the body storage for the first hours or days after the death and while the notice to the state/territory's Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages is being prepared by the Doctor, you should:
- notify the family;
- notify close friends;
- get access to the deceased person's home;
- notify care services if the deceased had care in the home or other help; and
- notify the employer or business partner if the deceased was still working.
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2.1 Notifying the Immediate Family and Close Friends of the Death
At this early stage, it will be important to notify immediate family and close friends only.
If the death was expected, notifying family and friends of the loss will in most cases be slightly less confronting as the time leading up to the death provided some time to start dealing emotionally with the loss of a loved one.
If the death was unexpected, bearing the news can be more difficult as one deals with one's own loss and will likely trigger emotions in the notified persons. The Hospital or Nursing Home may offer to notify family and friends on your behalf if you wish so you can deal with your emotions and focus on other matters.
Communicating such sad news to family and friends is best done in person and in a quiet environment if possible. Remember to think about the possible reaction of the recipient, their health and tailor your message accordingly. It may be worth writing down and rehearsing what you are going to say to feel more comfortable when delivering the news or bring someone with you.
Be prepared that the recipient of the information may request time alone; don't feel rejected and try to understand that people deal with such a situation in very different ways.
If the death was peaceful and painless it will often help if you inform family and friends of this as it will put them at more ease.
2.2 Get Access to the Home
It will be important that you request to gain access to the deceased person's home while you inform immediate family members or can organise a day and time to visit in preparation for Step 4 – How to Find a Will & Funeral Insurance Information.
It is recommended that you as the person who will likely take on the Executor (the person nominated in the Will to administer the Deceased Estate) or Administrator (usually the most senior Next of Kin who will administer the Deceased Estate where no Will is in place) role should have a set of keys as soon as practical. It can unfortunately occur that Beneficiaries may want to gain access to the house and claim possessions, furniture and other items, which may be considered illegal. If you fear this could happen it may be appropriate to request all keys until the Estate is fully understood and administered in preparation for distribution. In extreme circumstances you may even want to change the locks to ensure nothing is taken from the deceased person's home.
As further outlined in Step 15 – Determining Deceased Estate Assets & the Residuary Estate you will need to establish the total value of the Estate and may want to take full control of all the deceased person’s personal belongings, jewellery and valuables early on depending on your specific situation.
2.3 Notify Care Services
If the deceased was receiving care in the home or resided in a nursing home but was not there at the time of death, it will be important to inform the relevant persons to ensure the services are no longer provided. This will help you save money and allow providers to commence their administrative processes as well.
2.4 Notify Employer, Business Partners, Staff and Contractors
If the deceased was still working or had business dealings, it is important to inform the Human Resources department of the company, or business partners, staff and contractors if self-employed, of the death.
Companies will often have procedures in place and will most likely want to meet with a Next of Kin to pick up personal belongings and for their administrative purposes.
Don't feel pressured to do this immediately and request for more time if this is what you need.
2.5 Notify Other Family and Friends
Once the most immediate family, friends, care providers and employer know about the death, you can communicate the news to broader family and friends. You may not to do this to each individually but may inform them via the funeral invitations, social media account or other media a bit later as you work through these steps.
You are currently on Step 2 – Notifying Family & Friends of a Death. Other steps of interest may be:> Step 4 – How to Find a Will & Funeral Insurance Information > Step 7 – How To Organise a Funeral in Australia > Step 12 – Notification of Government Departments & Service Providers of the Death
Actions and Decisions to Complete Step Yourself
If you have decided to complete this Step yourself, some actions and decisions may be to:
- Notify the immediate family and friends of the death, ideally in person (see Step 2.1 above);
- Request a set of keys to the deceased person's home or residence in preparation of finding the Will and other documents if you are the likely Executor or Administrator of the Deceased Estate (see Step 2.2 above);
- Notify any care services that were used prior to the death to stop paying fees (see Step 2.3 above);
- Inform the employer, business partners or other work-related persons if the deceased person was still working (see Step 2.4 above); and
- Notify other family members and friends (see Step 2.5 above).
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Cost & Effort
Reading: 5 mins
Completing: 1-3 hrs
Total: 1-3 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 Executor & Administrator Handbook Summary to get an overview of the Estate administration process.
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