What happens following a death

When someone dies you will need to let others know and be aware of the first steps to manage this difficult time.

We are testing the Alpha stage of the 'End of life' guide. If you find this guide useful or would like to report an error, please leave us a comment below.

The death of a loved one is one of the most difficult times in everyone's life and it may be difficult to know what steps to take first.

When someone dies it's important to let the right people know, including the right authorities, so they can help you organise funeral arrangements, certificates and find grief and financial support.

If a loved one dies at home

If a loved one dies at home, contact the person's doctor or other medical practitioner who can certify death has occurred. A funeral director can take the deceased into their care and assist with funeral arrangements.

If the death was unexpected, unclear, suspicious or the person did not have a regular doctor, the police must be called.

When a loved one dies in a hospital, hospice or rest home

The staff at the care facility will first contact you to tell you about the death.

You should then call a funeral home to coordinate the completion of the death certificate and take the deceased person into their care. This needs to be done quickly because the care facility is required by law to remove the body from their premises immediately.

Who needs to know after a loved one has died

Sharing the news of the death with friends and family

Telling friends and family of the deceased about the death is a difficult task. You may consider sharing this task with other close family members and friends of the deceased.

Social media can be a useful way of sharing the news quickly but you may first want to let close friends and family know in person or by phone. To ensure you have contacted all friends and family, you could use contacts from the deceased's printed phone book if one exists or use the contacts on their phone if you have access.

If you are using a funeral director, they will help you organise obituaries and death notices to share the news with the community.

Notifying government and other organisations

You should notify government agencies as soon as possible.

For a list of Western Australian Government agencies you may need to notify, see cancel services and notify organisations section.

Services Australia has payments, support and other services to help you when someone close to you dies. For more information see:


Medical certificate of cause of death

When someone dies, the doctor will have the appropriate forms and knowledge to complete and sign a medical certificate of cause of death.

If using a funeral director, the medical certificate will be given to the funeral director and they can then take the deceased person into their care.

If the person has died suddenly and/or the cause of death is unknown, the State Coroner's Office will investigate the cause and circumstances surrounding the death. 

Finding the will

If the deceased left a will, it may have details on what the funeral arrangements should be.

If you are having trouble finding a copy of the will, check with their lawyer. The deceased person may also have lodged a copy with the WA Will Bank.

To retrieve the will from the Will Bank, you need to complete a form (PDF download) and provide identification. Requests take two business days to process.

Last updated: