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What To Do When Someone Dies (Qld)

When a loved one passes away, it can be difficult to know how to proceed through the fog of grief. There are many practical, personal and administrative duties that must be undertaken in the immediate aftermath of a death. Either a family member or a deceased estate administrator will have to handle the necessary bureaucratic and administrative tasks. This article explains what to do when someone dies in Queensland.

What To Do When Someone Dies In Queensland

One of the immediate considerations, when someone passes away, is whether the deceased wished to be an organ donor. There is a short time frame in which to make a decision on this matter. A hospital can check whether the deceased signed up to the Australian Organ Donor Registry, and then discuss the matter with the family members of the deceased. This is a crucial step because, in Queensland, the family can overrule the deceased’s wish to be a donor.

The next step when someone dies is to think about the immediate priorities. Arrangements may need to be made for minor children, family pets or livestock. The deceased’s personal belongings and the vehicle may need to be collected and secured. Someone may need to ensure that the deceased’s residence is secured.

After someone dies, there must be documentation of the death. This will vary according to where the deceased passed away. In Queensland, when someone passes away at a hospital or nursing home, the attending doctor will issue a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death (MCCD). Similarly, if someone dies at home from a terminal illness, the family will typically have end of life arrangements in place with their medical professional to sign an MCCD.

What to do when someone dies in an accident

On the other hand, if the death is the result of an accident or emergency, the attending paramedic will issue a Life Extinct Form, and then the deceased’s own doctor will issue the MCCD. If the cause of death is unclear, the police officer who attends the scene will contact a Queensland Coroner, and there may be an autopsy. It will typically take around 6 weeks for the results of the autopsy to be made available to the family, but the deceased will be released for burial within a few days.

Unless there is an inquest into the death, the next step is to contact a funeral home to make arrangements for the transfer of the deceased and the funeral itself. Either the funeral director or another person in charge of the arrangements will need to register the death with the Queensland government.

The family often takes charge of the funeral and burial arrangements, but sometimes the person responsible is the deceased’s personal representative. When the deceased has left a will, they will choose their own personal representative, who is known as an executor of the estate. Otherwise, the personal representative is an administrator appointed by the Supreme Court of Queensland. The personal representative is responsible for not only funeral arrangements but also the other administrative and legal obligations involved in deceased estate administration.


It can be difficult to know who needs to be notified when someone dies. In Queensland, it is necessary to contact some government entities and other organisations right away, while other notifications can wait until later. For instance, it is important to contact the deceased’s employer, not only as a courtesy but also because the company may be obligated to pay certain benefits upon the death of an employee.

Fortunately, there is now more centralisation of government departments, so when the family of the deceased contacts Services Australia, this serves as notification for entities including Medicare, Child Support and Centrelink. The family can also get in touch with the Australian Death Notification Service to notify multiple different organisations at once. Unfortunately, there are many other notifications that must be made when someone dies in Queensland, including cancelling:

  • Credit and debit cards;
  • Australian Business Number (ABN);
  • Driver’s licence;
  • Concession cards;
  • Health care cards;
  • Social media accounts;
  • Gym and club memberships;
  • Telephone accounts;
  • Internet, digital and streaming subscriptions; and
  • Pet registrations.

In most cases, the personal representative will need to apply to the Supreme Court for a probate grant to take control over the deceased estate. After applying for probate, one of the first tasks of the personal representative is to prepare a comprehensive record of the deceased’s assets and debts. The best approach to compiling this list is to go through any paperwork, including testamentary documents, banks statements and taxation returns. The executor or administrator will pay off debts as appropriate using funds from the deceased estate, and then hold the remaining assets for later distribution. The personal representative is legally responsible for protecting the assets of the estate until they are given away.

It is hard to know what to do when someone dies. Armstrong Legal can help you with the administration of a deceased estate and offers representation in case of legal conflict. Please contact the team without delay 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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