Frequently asked questions about funeral services

Why are funerals so important?

A funeral service is an important step – and often provides family members with the first step back into the community and demands of everyday life. Funerals help family and friends of the deceased acknowledge their loss and find comfort in creating a sense of order.

Is a funeral always held at a funeral home or church?

Although most services are held at one of our Geelong funeral homes or in a church, it is possible to have a service elsewhere. Today many families are choosing to hold their funeral services in places that have special meaning to them and their loved ones. Options may include at the graveside, in one’s home, in a park, or some other public or private location. Bringing loved ones together to remember someone in a place that was especially meaningful provides more than a setting for a service—it provides loved ones with an emotional backdrop to celebrate the things that made that life unique.

Who is responsible for arranging funerals?

The next of kin – spouse, legal partner, parent, child or sibling – is responsible for arranging a funeral in most cases. Where there is some dispute and a Will exists, the nominated Executor is deemed the arbiter of funeral arrangements. At his or her discretion, the Executor can appoint another person to make arrangements with funeral directors. In some cases where a person may not have any known relative, authorities might need to make funeral arrangements. This responsibility is often assumed by social workers or other authorised authorities.

Who can take part in a funeral ceremony?

A funeral ceremony may include anyone the family of the deceased would like to involve. For example, a friend or member of the family may wish to contribute to the funeral service by making a personal tribute. Funeral ceremonies are generally led by a member of the clergy or a civil celebrant. Funeral services led by a person of religion focus on the beliefs and faith of that religion, including readings from the Bible or other religious books, prayers and funeral rites, plus a reflection on the deceased person’s life. Civil celebrants individually prepare a eulogy on the life of the person who has died, incorporating appropriate poetry or other readings. In some cases, other relevant organisations may be included in the funeral ceremony, such as the RSL or Masonic Lodge.

What is a pre-paid funeral?

A pre-paid funeral is planned in advance and paid for at current prices. Your funeral arrangements are protected and you will not have to pay extra, even if prices rise in the future. You can be assured your investment is safe and managed by a third party in accordance with strict legislation. You can find out more about prepaid funerals and funeral planning by contacting our Geelong funeral home. A prepaid funeral is provided by Guardian Plan, proudly part of InvoCare. InvoCare is Australia’s leading provider of funeral, cemetery, crematoria and related services.

Who should I notify after someone dies?

When someone dies it can be difficult to remember all the people who may need to be notified. The list below offers a guide to some of these organisations. On your behalf, our funeral directors will notify the Victorian Registry of Births, Death and Marriages and Centrelink.

Your list could also include:

  • Accountant.
  • Australian Taxation Office.
  • Banks or Building Societies – personal accounts, investments or loans.
  • Care Agencies – Hospice, Meals on Wheels, etc.
  • Clubs / Service Organisations – i.e. RSL, Probus, Rotary, etc.
  • Dentist.
  • Department of Health, Housing.
  • Electoral Office.
  • Insurance Companies – Life, Health, Motor, House, etc.
  • Local Council – land rates, pet registration, services, etc.
  • Medicare and/or Private Health Fund, Ambulance Services.
  • Online and Social Media – Facebook, LinkedIn, email accounts.
  • Post Office.
  • Solicitor or Trustee.
  • Subscriptions – newspapers, magazines, Pay TV, etc.
  • Superannuation Fund/s.
  • Trade Union.
  • Utility Providers – Electricity, Gas, Water, Phone, Internet, etc.
  • Veteran’s Affairs.
  • Vic Roads – Vehicle registrations and licence.

When is the Death Certificate issued?

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

What is Probate?

Probate is a certificate necessary for the release of the deceased’s 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.

Is money frozen by banks when someone dies?

The death of one owner should not affect bank accounts held in joint names. Where an account is held solely in the name of the deceased, presentation of a funeral account is often all that is required to access the account, releasing funds from the deceased person’s estate to pay for the funeral.

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 Funeral & Bereavement Service in 1980 and is one of our very important services offered to the community. Our funeral home staff are trained to recognise and support people in need, helping them handle death and understand the process of grief. Our Bereavement Care team is available free of charge to family and friends of people who choose our funeral services and can also talk to schools and care facilities, seniors groups and other community groups.

Should children attend funerals?

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 services. 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 funerals provides an opportunity for parents and children to share their grief. While 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.

What is the difference between a coffin and a casket?

The main difference between coffins and caskets is the design. Originating from Europe, rectangular caskets usually feature a hinged lid. By contrast, coffins taper out to a point at the shoulder, with a lid that generally lifts off completely. Today, coffins and caskets are made of either particle board (chipboard), timber (including pine, oak, cedar and mahogany) or metal (these are imported from the USA). The lining is made from materials ranging from understated calico to hand-ruched satin.

Does organ donation affect my funeral arrangements?

Your funeral arrangements are not affected by organ donation. However, organ donation is only performed in major hospitals are requires informed consent from the next of kin. Some people may hold a donor card which indicates their wishes upon death. Organ retrieval timing is important. Some organs, such as heart valves or bones must be retrieved within 24 hours, while a cornea must be retrieved within approximately eight hours.

What is a reportable death?

The State Coroner’s Office must be alerted to every reportable death in Victoria, including deaths:

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

Where a reportable death occurs outside the metropolitan Melbourne area, the local Coroner will investigate.

What happens at the Coroner’s?

All reportable deaths need to be investigated by the State Coroner or by a local Coroner. The first step is usually for the Coroner to ask a family member or close friend to identify the deceased. Identification can take place at the place of death, with police present or at the Coroner’s office. The Coroner studies the deceased and usually conducts an autopsy to determine the cause of death. The presence of narcotics or poison in the body, as well as the location of bruising and wounds helps identify whether the death was intended or accidental. In some cases, the Coroner will take fingerprints and perform a blood test.