Frequently Asked Questions

Commonly asked questions and answers about funerals and the death of a loved one.

Who should I notify?

When is the Death Certificate issued?

What is Probate?

Is money “frozen” after someone dies?

Who can I contact to help me through this?

Should children attend a funeral?

What is the difference between a coffin and a casket?

Does organ donation affect my funeral arrangements?

What is a reportable death?

What happens at the Coroner’s?

Is the coffin cremated?

Is a funeral really necessary?

Who can take part in a funeral ceremony?

What is a pre-paid funeral?

 

Who should I notify?

Make a list of people you think should know that a loved one has died. Remember friends and relatives who live a long way away, or are on holidays. Your list could also include:

  • Family members and friends.
  • The family Doctor.
  • The Minister of religion.
  • The preferred Funeral Director.
  • The Executor of the will.
  • Hospice and Palliative care services.
  • Home care services.
  • Centrelink or the Department of Veteran Affairs.
  • Health Fund & Medicare.
  • Banks, credit unions, and other financial institutions.
  • Solicitor.
  • Employer.

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When is the Death Certificate issued?

It may take up to three weeks for the Registrar of Births, Deaths and Marriages to process the information and send the Death Certificate. In some cases, such as coronial inquiries, it can take longer. The Death Certificate is posted to the person who signed the application form at the time of the funeral arrangement.

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What is Probate?

Probate is a certificate necessary for the release of assets to beneficiaries. If the assets are jointly owned, probate is usually not needed. The Executor of the will usually applies for probate to the Probate Office. You or your solicitor can apply for probate.

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Is money “frozen” after someone dies?

Bank accounts in joint names should not be affected by the death of one of the owners. Accounts held solely by the deceased may still be able to be accessed, and presentation of a funeral account is often all that is required to release funds to pay for the funeral out of the deceased person’s estate.

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Who can I contact to help me through this?

When someone close dies, even if it is expected, people react in many different ways. Acute stress and anxiety are often the response to a painful loss. Bereavement Care was pioneered by Tuckers in 1980 and is one of our very important services offered to the community. We assist people by helping them to handle death and understand the process of grief.
Our staff are trained to recognise and support those in need. Bereavement Care is provided free of charge to all family members including children and friends, who choose Tuckers for their funeral or memorial service.
Bereavement Care staff are available to talk to community groups, seniors groups, schools and care facilities.

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Should children attend a funeral?

Children should be given the opportunity to attend a funeral, especially that of a close relative. However, they should never be forced to go. It is always helpful to explain what to expect at the funeral before the child is asked to decide if he or she wants to share in the experience.
As parents are the best judge of the character of their children, they are usually aware if a child is likely to be ‘too sensitive’ to attend or is likely to become hysterical. If this is the case it may be best for the child to attend only a part of the funeral service.
On the day of the funeral it is important to have someone with the child to give support and answer questions the child may ask.
Attending the funeral provides an opportunity for parents and children to share their grief. Whilst seeing each other upset can be difficult, sharing their grief helps them learn about each other’s feelings and can enable them to comfort each other.

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What is the difference between a coffin and a casket?

Contrary to what many believe, coffins are very different to caskets. A casket is rectangular, usually has a hinged lid and is of European origin. Coffins are just how people imagine them, tapered out to a point at the shoulder, and with a lid which usually lifts off completely. Coffins are of English origin.
Today, coffins and caskets are made of either particle board (chipboard), timber (including pine, oak, cedar and mahogany), metal (these are imported from the USA) and very recently the outside of some is made of velvet. The lining is made from materials ranging from understated calico to hand ruched satin.

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Does organ donation affect my funeral arrangements?

No; if your organs are donated, your funeral arrangements are not affected.
Organ donors are people who genuinely care about the human race. By donating kidneys, heart, lungs, liver, pancreas – even corneas and bone tissue, donors can save or extend the life of someone they don’t even know.
Organ donation, which is possible only in a major hospital, requires the informed consent of the next of kin. In some cases, people are provided with a donor card to indicate their wishes once they die. Of course, the timing of organ retrieval is crucial. For example, heart valves and bones must be retrieved within 24 hours of death, and a cornea must be retrieved within approximately 8 hours.

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What is a reportable death?

Reportable Deaths are those that are:

  • due to unnatural (violent or unexpected) causes.
  • resulting from an accident or injury.
  • where a doctor cannot issue the death certificate.
  • where a person was held in care prior to death.
  • where a person’s identity is unknown.
  • during or as a result of an anaesthetic.

The State Coroner’s Office must be notified of every Reportable Death in the State, and they will usually handle all cases in the metropolitan area. Those cases which occur outside metropolitan Melbourne are handled by the local coroner.

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What happens at the Coroner’s?

All “reportable deaths” need to be investigated by the State Coroner or by another Coroner. The first step is identification, and the Coroner usually asks for a family member or close family friend to identify the deceased. This can be done either at the place of death, in the presence of the police, or at the Coroner’s office.
The Coroner then attempts to determine the cause of death, and studies the deceased for any signs of injury or abuse, and usually conducts an autopsy (post mortem). Depending on the outcome, finger prints may be taken and a blood test is made.
The presence of bruising, skin puncture marks, poison or narcotics in the body, and the location of wounds can provide vital clues to the cause of death. These signs will help determine if the death was accidental or intended.

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Is the coffin cremated?

Yes. When cremation occurs, the coffin is cremated with the deceased. The only things that may not be cremated are the coffin’s metal or other fittings, which when burnt are harmful to the environment. Any fittings removed by the crematorium staff are destroyed on the crematorium grounds.
A modern cremator operates at temperatures between 800°C and 1000°C. At such temperatures, any precious or other metals are fused with other materials so that they are unrecognisable and have no salvage value. If any metallic material remains after the cremation process, it is removed from the cremated remains and disposed of – usually by burial in the crematorium grounds.
A coffin cannot be opened once it enters the grounds of the crematorium. Thus, if you are unsure whether or not to leave items of jewellery or other personal belongings with the deceased it may be best to remove them prior to the coffin going to the crematorium.

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Is a funeral really necessary?

There are a couple of reasons why funerals are important.
The first is technical – a funeral makes sure that a body is legally buried or cremated.
The second reason is that a funeral helps the family come to terms with the death; it is really the first step toward working through grief. In fact, it has been proven that a funeral has significant therapeutic value, giving an avenue to express grief and provide support.
It’s important to remember that a funeral is not for the dead, it is for the living. It is a chance for family and friends to collectively express their love and respect, and to extend support to members of the family. It is a chance to formally acknowledge a loss.

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Who can take part in a funeral ceremony?

A funeral ceremony may include anyone the family of the deceased would like to involve.
Usually, a funeral ceremony is led by a member of the clergy or a civil celebrant. If the service is led by a person of religion, the service will focus on the beliefs and faith that are part of that religion. It may include readings from the Bible or other religious books, prayers, and the funeral rites of that particular faith, plus a reflection on the deceased’s life.
Civil celebrants individually prepare the funeral ceremony with a eulogy on the life of the person who has died and will incorporate appropriate poetry or other readings.
It is possible and quite normal to involve other people in the funeral ceremony. For example, a member of the family or a friend may wish to contribute to the service by making a personal tribute.
Sometimes other relevant organisations, such as the RSL or Masonic Lodge, may be included in the funeral ceremony.

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What is a pre-paid funeral?

A pre-paid funeral is a funeral planned in advance and paid for at today’s prices. Even if prices rise in the future, you will not have to pay extra for the service. Your investment is safe and sound as it is managed in accordance with strict legislation by a third party.

You can find out more about Pre-Paid funerals in the Pre-Planning a Funeral part of the web site.

Alternatively you may wish to contact us: 03 5221 4788 or email west@tuckers.com.au