Function or Wake
A wake can be held at a family home or at a function centre. If the wake is at home you can consider professional catering or your local deli, sandwich shop or cake shop could make up plates of sandwiches, cakes and / or fruit.
Most local RSL, Bowling, Golf or Community clubs have private rooms that can be hired for a wake which can be catered. It is difficult to estimate numbers, but consider that not everyone can come to a wake and most function centres will provide extra food if more is required.
Who to contact after the service
There are many people and organisations that may need to be contacted to inform them that a person has passed away. These organisations may not need to be contacted until after the funeral service.
- Solicitor and or accountant
- Centrelink and / or Veterans Affairs
- Health professionals, doctor, dentist, accountant etc
- Banks, Credit Unions, Superannuation Fund
- Insurance Companies
- Landlord / Real Estate Agent
- Home care nursing services, meals on wheels, etc
- Australian Tax Office
- Telephone / Internet / Pay TV companies
- Vehicle registration and drivers licence
- Electoral Office
- Post Office
- Local Council for rates, etc
- Motor registry
- Health funds
- Clubs and professional bodies
- Utilities – gas, electricity, water, etc
- Credit card providers and department store accounts
- Hire purchase companies
Grief and Bereavement Support
When someone close dies, even if it is expected, people react in many different ways. Acute stress and anxiety in some circumstances may accompany the loss of a loved one.
There are many support organisations who can provide you with assistance during this time. Your family doctor or medical centre will be able to help with a list of qualified practitioners.
You can also look online for bereavement support groups.
- Lifeline 13 11 14 www.lifeline.org.au
- The Salvation Army Counselling Service Sydney (02) 9331 6000 www.salvationarmy.org.au
- Kids’ Helpline 1800 551 800 www.kidshelp.com.au
- 24 Hour Grief Support (02) 9489 6644
- Beyond Blue The National Depression Initiative 300 224636 www.beyondblue.org.au
- Cancer Support 13 11 20 www.cancercouncil.com.au
- Bereavement Care Centre 1300 654 556 www.bereavementcare.com.au
- The Compassionate Friends (02) 9290 2355 www.tcfnsw.org.au
- Grief Link www.grieflink.org.au
- Department of Human Services (Centre Link) humanservices.gov.au
Religious ministers are a natural referral point for many people. Relaxation and meditation centres can offer alternative methods for dealing with stress and anxiety, there are some specialise in coping with death and dying.
Role of the Executor
If you have been named as an executor in someone’s Will, it means the deceased wanted you to administer their estate, perhaps in conjunction with another person.
An executor’s duty is to take charge of the deceased’s assets and property and see that the funeral and administration expenses are paid, as well as debts and taxes. Finally an executor has to distribute the assets to the beneficiaries in accordance with the will.
There can be any number of executors named in a will, though one or two is usually considered sufficient.
You may need the assistance of a Solicitor to deal with the duties and obligations of being an executor.
You can find out more information about wills, executors and probate from theLaw Society of NSW.
What if there is no Will?
If a person dies without making a Will they are said to have died ‘intestate’. This may also apply if the deceased has left a valid Will which did not dispose of their entire estate.
There are laws that list the order of how a person’s assets are to be distributed when there is no will.
The order of distribution will depend on the particular circumstances of the deceased. In general terms the order of priority is as follows:
- Nieces and nephews
- Aunts and uncles
If there are no qualifying beneficiaries then the estate will pass to the State of New South Wales. The State may waive its entitlement in favour of the following:
any person who was dependant on the deceased:
- any person who has a ‘just and moral’ claim on the deceased’s estate;
- any person or organisation for whom the deceased might reasonably be expected to have made provision
There are many legal issues that have to considered when a person dies ‘intestate’ and advice should be obtained from a solicitor or legal representative.
What is Probate?
Probate is an order of the court saying that the will is valid and that the executor has the right to administer the estate. The Executor or a solicitor usually applies for probate to the Probate Office. You can find out more information about wills, executors and probate from the Law Society of NSW (www.lawsociety.com.au)
After someone dies any Power of Attorney stops and the executor of a person’s will becomes responsible for the persons estate.
When someone dies, access to their bank account is limited to the executor and may only be used for specific expenses relating to the maintenance of the estate and the execution of the will.
If there is a joint bank account the other signatory to the account should still be able to access the account as normal.
Money can usually be released from the deceased’s bank account for the cost of the funeral. This can be done by presenting the funeral directors invoice and a copy of the death certificate to the bank. This may be easier than claiming the costs back from the estate. You should call the bank to confirm what papers you will need to provide.
You should check the person’s bank and credit card statements for any regular payment or direct debit amounts. These could be for things such as insurance, club memberships, pay television, donations, etc. These organisations will need to be contacted and the payments stopped. You should be careful about any invoices that arrive after a person has passed away and check that they are legitimate.
It is important to contact the organisation that was paying any pension payments to let them know that the person has passed away, eg, Centrelink, the Department of Veterans Affairs, superannuation fund, etc.
Depending on the situation Centrelink may make a Bereavement Payment to a surviving spouse or carer. This will depend on the type of pension and situation in each case. On your instructions we can send a courtesy fax to Centrelink to inform them that a person has passed away.
A returned serviceman or woman may be entitled to a Funeral Benefit to help pay the cost of the funeral. A surviving spouse of a returned serviceman or woman may also be entitled to a Payment after Bereavement to help meet the financial demands following the loss of their partner. You can to contact the Department of Veterans Affairs (ph: 1800 555 254) or the Welfare Officer of your RSL Sub-Branch about these payments.
Some RSL sub branches may also have a mortality fund which they pay out of on the death of a member.
Private health insurance
Some Private Health Funds have a Funeral Benefits Scheme. This will depend on the fund and the amount of time a person has been a member. You should stop payments to a person’s Health Fund and ask about any Funeral Benefit arrangement.