Preparation is Key

This time is much easier for everyone if you can prepare in advance. Try to be as organised as possible.

Firstly, make sure you know where to find important documents. They may be stored with a lawyer, at a secure document storage facility, or in a safe place in the house.

Key Documents

  • A copy of your Will
  • Any instructions about the distribution of personal belongings not covered in the Will
  • Your birth certificate
  • A list, including contact details, of organisations and people to notify if anything happens
  • Instructions on where all your property and investments are and who to contact about them
  • Information about any online accounts you have (e.g. social media accounts) which you want shut down when you die
  • Details of your insurance policies
  • Important documents such as land titles and mortgage agreements
  • Any other documents that may be important to your family, e.g. the original manuscript of a book you have written
  • Any wishes relating to funeral arrangements
    • A list of friends you want at the funeral and their contact details
    • A letter to individuals or a recorded message for the funeral
    • Your wishes for the funeral if they are not detailed in your Will

What are some of the things that need to be done after a family member dies?

A doctor must sign a certificate that confirms the death. Funeral arrangements cannot be completed until the doctor has signed and issued this certificate, generally called a Medical Certificate of Cause of Death. The funeral company can then take the person who has died into their care.

The funeral director in charge of the funeral arrangements will generally collect all the information needed for registering the death and send it to the relevant state or territory government office. The funeral director may also help with things such as newspaper notices, flowers and religious services. Read more about who to contact on the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand website

If a funeral director is not involved with the funeral arrangements, the person who manages the final arrangements for the deceased is responsible for registering the death. A family member or a funeral director needs to register the death, including obtaining a medical certificate or Coroner’s Authorisation (before the body is buried), organise the funeral and notify the other family members and close friends of the deceased.

This is a helpful resource for this area.