Loss of a loved one
Read time: 4 mins

Loss of a loved one

The unexpected loss of a loved one is devastating. On top of dealing with your own grief and the grief of others around you, there are often administrative items that you may need to sort out.

A sudden death

The loss of a loved one, whether it’s your partner, family member or friend, can be emotionally overwhelming. When a death is sudden there can often be daunting consequences to face - both practically and emotionally. We look at some practical advice that may help guide you through this stressful time.

Where to start and what to do

When a death occurs, one of the first things you'll need to consider is the funeral. Before beginning any funeral arrangements it's important to establish how you'll pay for it. If you’re a trustee for the person’s estate, you should be able to find out if they had any existing financial arrangements, such as a prepaid funeral arrangement or bond. If you’re unsure, speak to the person’s solicitor or look at their will, which may contain more details. 

Sometimes private health, sickness, accident or life insurance policies may help pay for funeral expenses. If you know there’s a policy in place, you can contact the provider and they’ll help you work out if they’re entitled to a payment. There are a number of funeral options available - some of which can be expensive so it’s important to set a budget first before you start making plans.

Determine who is the executor or administrator of the estate

If you're the person charged with the deceased's estate, you will need to apply for a grant of probate (if you're named as the executor in the deceased's will) or letters of administration (if no executor has been named). This will give you the legal power to administer the deceased's estate.

You should also contact their financial institutions, including their bank/s to start the process of taking responsibility of those accounts. You’ll also need to contact their super fund so that they can begin the process of paying out their super and any insurance they may have had as part of their super.    

If you need help, there are government services available to provide advice around managing the deceased person's estate including their financial affairs.

How super can help

When someone passes away, their super is usually passed on to their dependants or nominated beneficiary/ies (if any). Super is not typically covered by a person's will and a super fund trustee will follow superannuation law to determine who will receive a person's super. If you’re the executor of the will or the person’s next of kin, you can contact their super fund to lodge a death claim to start this process. If your loved one didn’t nominate a beneficiary, their super fund will follow relevant procedures to decide who receives the super balance. This may be one or more of their dependants or a legal personal representative. 

They may also have insurance through their super. If this is the case, the fund will talk you through what paperwork you need to provide in order to make a claim.

How to make a claim

Next steps for super

If you're the executor/administrator:

  • Contact the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) to notify them of the deceased's passing.
  • The ATO will then be able to do a search to find out which super funds the deceased has. You'll need to provide them with a copy of the grant of probate or letters of administration. 
  • Lodge a death claim with each of the deceased's super funds and they'll be able to guide you on next steps - if the deceased had multiple super funds you'll need to contact each individually. 

  • Consider your own circumstances and nominate your own beneficiary/ies for your super. 


A guide on what you could do next

  1. Locate a will

    A will details the person’s wishes for when they pass away. It usually provides important information about their financial matters and how they’d like them to be handled. You’ll need a death certificate to obtain a person’s will after they pass away.

  2. Apply for a grant of probate or letter of administration

    A grant of probate (where an executor has been named) or letters of administration (where no executor has been named) will give the executor/administrator power to act on the deceased's behalf to administer their estate. Contact the applicable supreme court and consider seeking advice from a lawyer

  3. Contact their bank/s

    They’ll put the appropriate measures in place to protect and cancel the deceased’s accounts and will advise you on next steps.

  4. Notify Services Australia of the deceased's passing

    Services Australia (previously called the Department of Human Services) will update any relevant Centrelink, Medicare and Child Support records.

    Find out how here.

  5. Lodge a claim through super

    The super fund will take steps to determine who the deceased’s super will be paid to and will advise you on how to claim it. 

  6. Insurance

    Contact the relevant insurance companies to make a claim and see if the policy covers funeral or other expenses. 

  7. Let the right people know

    The following table lists the people and organisations you may need to contact if someone has died.

    Download here

  8. Take care of yourself

    The challenges you might face when dealing with a loved one’s death are stressful and you’ll be dealing with your own grief. Reach out to close friends and family. Get rest when you can and delegate responsibilities as required. 

Need help?

Speak to us about lodging a claim.

Get in touch

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