Losing someone close to you is a time of great distress, and having to deal with all the legalities involved can add to the pressure.

To help you, we've gathered together transactions and links that may be of use during this difficult time.

After someone dies – an overview of what has to be done

First steps

When someone dies:

  • a doctor signs and issues a death certificate
  • a funeral company takes the deceased into care
  • the funeral director in charge of the funeral arrangements registers the death with the NSW Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages. If a funeral director is not involved:
    • the person who is managing the final arrangements for the deceased must register the death.

Letting people know

There are no legal rules about who must be notified when someone dies – the executor or next of kin takes on the responsibility. 

Relatives and friends need to be informed, as well as:

  • telephone, internet, energy companies 
  • clubs (for example RSL, sports and fitness)
  • government departments 
  • banks 
  • insurance companies 
  • online accounts (for example, email and social media accounts).

You can notify organisations by phone or in writing. Some organisations may require a copy of the death certificate.

Taking leave from work

Compassionate and bereavement leave
As an employee, including a casual employee, you are entitled to 2 days of compassionate leave when: 

  • a member of your immediate family or household dies, or contracts or develops a life-threatening illness or injury
  • a baby in your immediate family or household is stillborn
  • you have a miscarriage, or
  • your current spouse or de facto partner has a miscarriage.

Immediate family includes your:

  • spouse or former spouse
  • de facto partner or former de facto partner
  • child
  • parent
  • grandparent
  • grandchild
  • sibling.

Wills and funerals

Locating the will
A will is a legal document that sets out how someone wants their assets distributed after they die. It might also include information about the funeral or memorial service.

What is an Executor
When you make your will, you need to appoint a person or organisation to administer your estate. This person is known as the executor and their role is to carry out the instructions in your will.

Organising a funeral

The person responsible for organising a funeral depends on whether the deceased left a will. If they did, the executor of the will is responsible. The executor can pass the responsibility onto a family member of the deceased, if they wish.

If there is no will, or no executor was appointed in the will, then the next of kin or a close relative can arrange the funeral.

There are no legal rules about who can go to a funeral, but it's a good idea to notify relatives and other people who may want to attend, to avoid any disputes.

Services are usually held 1 to 4 weeks after the person has died.

Organisations to notify

It's important to notify all appropriate people, organisations and government departments. Services Australia for example will share the information across Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support.

Advise Transport for NSW that a customer is deceased
Transport for NSW is notified of deaths in NSW by the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages. If this has not yet occurred, you can visit a service centre with the required documentation.

Australian Death Notification Service (ADNS)
The ADNS provides people with a single online location to notify organisations that someone has died.

Services Australia also provides assistance in a variety of areas including social work services and financial support.

Useful tools

Registrations and certificates

Register a death
All deaths that occur in NSW must be registered with the Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages within 7 days of the burial or cremation. This is usually done by the funeral director but it's also possible for a next of kin or relative to register the death.

Apply for a death certificate
A death certificate is the official record of a death and can be used as proof of death, and proof of relationship to someone that has died. The funeral director usually applies for it when they register the death.

Register a stillbirth
Stillbirths are legally required to be registered as births, and will contain a notation of the stillbirth. The hospital does not register the birth for you.

Cancellations and transfers

To cancel or transfer ownership of a service, many organisations will need a 'certified copy' of the death certificate.
A certified copy is a copy of an original document that has been verified to be a true copy by an authorised witness such as a Justice of the Peace (JP), after they have sighted the original document.

Find a Justice of the Peace (JP)
The primary roles of a JP are to witness a person making a statutory declaration or affidavit, and to certify copies of original documents.

Transfer an E-Toll Account due to a deceased estate
An E-Toll Account may be transferred to a spouse or surviving partner, but not a family member. 

Close an E-Toll Account due to a deceased estate
If you need to close a Transport for NSW E-Toll Account due to a deceased estate, you can do this at a service centre.

Transfer a vehicle registration due to the death of the registered operator
If you need to transfer a vehicle registration to another person because the vehicle owner is deceased, you can do this at a service centre.

Transfer a vessel registration due to the death of the registered operator
In the case of a vessel's registered operator having died, the registration can be transferred to another person, at a service centre.

Change the details on a birth, death or marriage certificate
If you want to amend information kept by the Registry, you'll need to lodge an Application to Correct an Entry form.

Financial matters

Finding lost money
Unclaimed money is monies waiting to be claimed from inactive bank accounts, shares and investments, insurance policies, unpaid wages, unclaimed super, and deceased estates. 

Last updated: 8 April 2024