What you need to do

Death with touch all of us at some point in our lives. But despite its inevitability, death is something we rarely discuss and its consequences are often not fully understood. Having an understanding of what to do when someone dies can help prepare you for its eventuality.

Who do I contact?

Whether the death occurs at home, in a hospital or aged care facility, or elsewhere the first person who should be contacted is the deceased’s doctor. Legally a death certificate must be signed by a doctor who will explain what steps, if any, need to be taken to establish the cause of death.

In the case of someone dying at home, the doctor will issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death if they are satisfied of the cause of death.

Where someone dies in a hospital, they will arrange for a doctor to issue the Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. In the case of an aged care facility, the staff will liaise with the doctor.

The next person to contact, after family and friends, is your funeral director of choice. At Walter Carter Funerals we are on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, every day of the year and will arrange the transfer of the body into our care.

When the cause of death cannot be certified

If the doctor is unable to certify the cause of death, the police will be contacted. The police will then liaise with the Coroner.

Instances where this may happen include where the death:

  • is not by natural causes (including by accident or due to violence)
  • occurs while under anaesthetic (or within 24 hours thereafter)
  • is unexpected
  • occurs in an institution, while in prison or police custody, or at a drug or alcohol rehabilitation centre
  • is someone diagnosed with dementia.

Coronial staff or a government-appointed funeral company will transfer the body to the Coroner’s Office. Where the deceased has been diagnosed with dementia, this may not be deemed necessary following police investigation.

The Coroner will then conduct an autopsy. This involves a detailed external examination, as well as an examination of the internal organs to establish the cause of death.

Arranging the funeral

When faced with making funeral arrangements, most people have little or no prior experience and don’t know what to do.

At Walter Carter Funerals, our expert team can step you through the process and advise you on the matters that need to be considered.