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What To Do When Someone Dies (NSW)

It can feel overwhelming when a loved one passes away, and the bereaved are often left wondering what they should do next. There are administrative and bureaucratic tasks that a family or deceased estate administrator must complete in order to wrap up a deceased’s affairs. This article focuses on what to do when someone dies in New South Wales.

What To Do When Someone Dies In NSW

What to do when someone dies in NSW depends initially on where the deceased passed away. If the death happened at home unexpectedly, then the family needs to call emergency services on 000. It is then typically a police officer who will report the death to the Coroner. If the death was expected, in that the deceased was very elderly or terminally ill, then the family should follow the end of life procedures that were arranged ahead of time with medical professionals. Alternatively, if a death happens in a nursing home or hospital, a doctor will issue a death certificate. The medical staff will, in many cases, check whether the deceased was a registered organ donor, and talk to the family about their wishes.

After that, the family will usually contact a funeral company to take the deceased directly to the funeral home. The funeral director will register the deceased with the NSW Registry of Births, Deaths & Marriages (BDM). When the family is not using a funeral home, then the person in charge of arranging the funeral will need to register the death with the BDM.

The person in charge of arranging the deceased’s affairs is often the executor of the estate. A testator chooses an executor from amongst family members, friends, or professional administrators to administrate their deceased estate after their death. An executor is usually in charge of organising the funeral and should locate the testator’s will without delay to see if the deceased left any specific instructions as to their wishes, or details of a pre-paid funeral plan. A will is often kept in the deceased’s paperwork, and the original may be held in a safety deposit box or in the safe custody of the deceased’s solicitor. The executor usually pays out-of-pocket for the funeral and is reimbursed by the estate, but it is also possible to seek the authority of the deceased’s bank to use funds from the deceased’s account to pay for the will. There is also government assistance available if the executor and family cannot pay for this expense themselves and there are insufficient liquid assets in the deceased estate.

If there is no will, the Supreme Court of NSW will appoint an administrator to oversee the administration of the estate in line with intestacy provisions. An administrator is typically the deceased’s next of kin.

Administer The Deceased Estate

The personal representative of the deceased (either the executor or administrator) will manage the deceased’s affairs until the estate is finalised and they have fulfilled the testator’s wishes to the best of their ability. This person needs to compile a list of liabilities that must be discharged and assets held in the estate. This will mean going through the deceased’s paperwork and making enquiries with relevant banks, insurance companies and superannuation funds. The deceased’s last tax return is a good resource for compiling a list of current assets.

The main priority of the personal representative is to protect the assets of the deceased estate and the interests of the beneficiaries. This might entail ensuring the deceased’s home or other valuable assets, requesting a hold on the deceased’s credit and debit cards and mortgage payments, and notifying relevant authorities.


A grieving family will reach out to family and friends to let them know about the passing of a deceased, but there are other organisations and government departments who need to be notified after someone dies in NSW. Some notifications need to be made immediately, and others can wait until probate is granted. Someone, whether it is a family member or the executor, needs to inform the deceased’s employer and entities such as clubs and volunteer groups. The family can contact Services Australia, which will notify Medicare, Centrelink and Child Support, and provide assistance in the form of financial support and social work services. Additionally, the Australian Death Notification Services can notify multiple government organisations when someone dies.

There is also usually a significant list of cancellations that a personal representative must complete when someone dies in NSW, including cancelling credit cards, an ABN, driver’s licences, weapon’s licenses, social media accounts, concession cards, health care cards, gym memberships, phone, internet and television subscriptions, seniors card, and pet registration.

There are important tasks that a family or personal representative must complete when someone passes away. Armstrong Legal can help if you are unsure of what to do when someone dies in NSW. Whether you need help as an executor with your administrative duties or advice about contesting the provisions of a loved one’s will, contact the specialist team on 1300 038 223.

Dr Nicola Bowes

This article was written by Dr Nicola Bowes

Dr Nicola Bowes holds a Bachelor of Arts with first class honours from the University of Tasmania, a Bachelor of Laws with first class honours from the Queensland University of Technology, and a PhD from The University of Queensland. After a decade working in higher education, Nicola joined Armstrong Legal in 2020.

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