Frequently Asked Questions


1. What do I need to do when someone dies?

This will be a very uncertain and emotional time for you and it is so important to take care of yourself. Whatever the situation, stay as calm as you can and let things unfold.

Take your time and don’t feel pressured in to making hasty decisions. We have provided the following information to guide you, and hope that it will help put you at ease.

  • If death occurs at home and you know that a Doctor has been in attendance and will complete a Medical Cause of Death Certificate, and you have already chosen your Funeral Director, you can contact the funeral home directly to bring your loved one in to care.
  • If you haven’t already chosen a Funeral Director, it is wise to chat with relatives and close friends or your spiritual advisor, for guidance so you don’t feel pressured into making a decision on your own.
  • If your loved one is in nursing home care, the nursing home staff will have likely asked you to provide details of the funeral home of your choice for their records so that when the time comes, they can contact the funeral home on your behalf.
  • If a loved one has died at home and you have been supported by palliative care, you may have already expressed your wishes to them and they may assist you by making calls on your behalf, particularly to the funeral home of your choice.
  • If you are alone at home when your loved one dies and you were expecting it and you haven’t chosen a funeral home to take care of arrangements contact the Police, immediately (000). The Police will advise you of the next step to take.


2. Who do you call when someone dies suddenly?

When someone dies suddenly either by accident, an unknown cause, or by any other unexpected circumstance, the first people you should contact are the Police (000). The Police expect that they are notified in these instances, so feel comforted knowing that contacting them is the right thing to do.

It is crucial that you leave your loved one exactly as you have found them. The Police will decide on what course of action to take, and will arrange the Coroners Contractor to transport your loved one to the nearest Mortuary and will notify the Coroner of the death.


3. Who is responsible for making the funeral arrangements?

Responsibility for funeral arrangements is the privilege of the ‘nearest surviving relative’, determined as follows;

  1. A person who, immediately before death was living as: (i) the spouse of the deceased; or (ii) a defacto partner of the deceased aged 18 years or over;
  2. A person who, immediately before death was the spouse of the deceased;
  3. A son or daughter of the deceased aged 18 years or over;
  4. A parent of the deceased;
  5. A brother or sister of the deceased aged 18 years or over.

* In the event there is no surviving family, a close friend, Social Worker, Public Trustee, or a representative from another organisation may become the Funeral Administrator.


4. What happens if family members can’t agree about funeral arrangements?

Funeral Directors have a vast knowledge of their profession and a wealth of experience to draw from in situations like these. Often issues hindering decisions can be overcome by clear direction. Speak openly with the Funeral Director who if well informed, may be in a better position to offer assistance, to find a workable solution.


5. What paper work will I need to organise to give to the Funeral Director?

Our Funeral Director will need as many of the deceased person’s details as listed below, in order to complete the Registration of the Death. The more information we can provide the Registrar’s office, the sooner they can verify that the deceased person is who we say they are, and the sooner they can complete the Death Certificate.

  • Full Name, Address, Occupation, and Religion (if applicable)
  • Place and Date of Birth
  • Years of Residence in Australia (if applicable)
  • Fathers Full Name and Occupation
  • Mothers Full Name, Maiden Name and Occupation
  • Place, Date and Full Name of Spouse for all Marriages (including defacto relationships)
  • Full Names and Dates of Birth for all of the Children (living and deceased)

Generally, a birth certificate, and if applicable a marriage certificate are the most common references you need when someone dies, and in some instances you may make reference to a will, or a funeral managed fund. If you do not have access to any of these documents, you may be able to get the information from your extended family or other avenues which you can discuss with the Funeral Director.


6. How much information do you need to organise a funeral, and how do you personalise a funeral?

The wishes of your deceased loved one, and the involvement the family want to have in the funeral ceremony will determine how much information is required. A good start point is to work on what you know you want then talk amongst family and friends to get their input. Then you can work on ideas that you believe will make it special and relevant to your loved one.

There are many things that can personalise a funeral service. A coffin, a venue, a guard of honour, music, a singer, a bagpiper, a poem or reading, a floral or vegetable arrangement you have made yourself to sit on the coffin, memorabilia on the coffin, service content which is religious or non-religious, photographic memorial DVD, bookmarks or service booklets, a picture display, bubbles, balloons, or unique tributes to lay on the coffin when mourners pay their respects.

We often express to families that you are only limited by your imagination, and most things are achievable with sufficient time to organise them. The key thing is to talk openly with the Funeral Director about what you want the outcome to be so that we can work with you to achieve it.


7. How soon can we have a funeral?

The more official component is dictated by the protocols of each Cemetery, and the time between death and any funeral rites is determined by the combination of the protocol and personal/family decision making. There are legal requirements to meet when someone dies and there are a number of factors that influence the timelines, which will be explained in more detail at the funeral arrangement.

Regardless of whether it is a cremation or burial, generally it is the legal paper work from the attending Doctor or Coroner, the application for and the issue of cremation permits where applicable, and then the Cemetery Application process that will determine when the funeral can take place.

Initially though, it is important that you talk to a Funeral Director as soon as possible so that all the information necessary to get the procedural side of the arrangements underway can be formulated and confirmed.


8. How do I decide whether to have a Burial or a Cremation?

Family circumstance, religious belief, cost, and/or personal choice, are just a few considerations that may help determine your choice to have a burial or cremation. Talk with family and friends or a spiritual advisor if you are struggling to make a decision. Your Funeral Director may also be able to assist you with information to support the best decision for you.


9. Do you need to have a coffin to be buried or cremated?

The law has distinct provisions for funerals, and a coffin of a suitable standard of construction must be used at all gazetted Cemeteries and Crematoria in WA.


10. Are you able to get environmentally friendly coffins?

‘Environmentally friendly’ coffins, is a term that is largely misunderstood. Simply, a wooden coffin is environmentally friendly. Feel free to explain your preferences to the Funeral Director who will discuss options with you.


11. Do you have to have a funeral?

A funeral is a personal event and how simple or involved the event may be is a matter of personal choice. At any level of involvement the outcome is a burial or cremation. Due to the legal requirements for burial and cremation and the death registration, a Funeral Director will need to be engaged to manage this process.

It is a long held belief that funerals are for the living, an opportunity to celebrate a life and farewell someone you love in a way that is the most fitting for them, and best suits your personal wishes and circumstances. Please feel comfortable about asking your Funeral Director about the various options available to you.


12. Can you choose your own burial plot, and can more than one person be buried (interred) in the same plot?

In some cemeteries there is a fee for choosing your own specific plot over and above the normal burial fees imposed. Legislation does now provide for more than one, and up to three interments (burials) in the same plot.


13. What is a eulogy, and how do I write one?

A eulogy is basically a story or a series of short stories recalling meaningful memories that pay tribute to a deceased loved one and the life they have lived. It is a chance to share and celebrate the history of your loved one with everyone in attendance at the funeral service. Be assured, there is no right or wrong way to prepare a eulogy.

It is an opportunity to speak from the heart about all the things that made that person special to you all, and a perfect time to record and share those heartfelt moments. Whether a perspective from a husband, wife or partner, a child, a mother or father, a brother or sister, another relative, a close friend, team mate or work colleague.

Before you begin to write the eulogy, think about, and talk with family and friends about the memorable times you all had with your loved one, and the things that you want to share about those times. This may evoke many emotions where you find yourself laughing and crying as you recall the many stories. It is natural to experience these feelings and although initially it may not feel easy, embrace them and use them to express what you feel is important to say, to help keep your loved one’s memory alive.

Here are just a few things you might like to consider to help you write your story/stories.

His or her:

  • childhood to adulthood history
  • family ties
  • favourite people, food, things or places
  • occupation/s
  • passions, hobbies & sporting interests
  • happiest times, funny and/or most special moments
  • special traits, habits, quirks and/or sense of humour
  • loves and hates or indifferences

Once you know what you want to say, you can put pen to paper, then sort these special moments into a sequence or a timeline from earliest years to latter years. Other than a bit of tweaking, the eulogy is done. To personalise the service even more, you may also wish for other people to speak, providing different perspectives with memories of their own to share.

The next thing to decide is who will deliver the eulogy. You may feel you want to deliver the eulogy yourself or, as a family support each other to do it. If none of you feel able to present it, then perhaps extend the privilege to someone you know and trust. You may even feel your service celebrant is the right person to deliver the eulogy, on your behalf.


14. Can I come and visit to say goodbye to my loved one before the funeral?

This request is more commonly referred to as a ‘viewing’ and in history it was exactly that. When someone died, they would be put on display in the window of the Undertaker’s premises and people would walk by and view them. However, in our modern world these events are handled far more sensitively. We prefer to use the term ‘visitation’ simply because when your loved one was alive you visited, and in essence you are now doing so for the last time as a means of a final farewell. Visiting a deceased loved one is a very personal decision, so chat to your Funeral Director if you are having difficulty deciding if this is the right thing for you to do.


15. Should children be involved in a funeral and attend the service?

This is very much a family decision. Often being open with children about what has happened allows for some healthy discussion, creating opportunities for them to ask questions, so together you can determine whether they want or should be involved. Remembering that they too may be struggling with their emotions sensing from the people around them that something isn’t quite right or isn’t normal. They may not know why they are feeling the way they do, so including them in aspects of the funeral service may settle them and help them deal better with their own mixed emotions.

Over generations, attitudes and the ritual of funeral have changed dramatically. A funeral now is very much focused on ‘celebrating a life well lived’, so encouraging children to draw pictures or helping them write a letter, or make something special to put in or on the coffin means they can participate, express their feelings in a unique way and feel really good about what they have contributed.

Including activities at the funeral service that the children relate to like, having bubbles to blow into the air, and releasing balloons in to the sky at the conclusion of the service, may be really uplifting for the children and a comfort to everyone in attendance.


16. Where do I get the Death Certificate from, and when can I get it?

The Registrar Generals Certificate is commonly referred to as the Death Certificate. There are a number of stages to go through before the Certificate is issued to the family.

1a: When someone dies and a Doctor has been in attendance and is satisfied that death was by ‘natural cause’, he/she will complete a Medical Cause of Death Certificate which is completed for the Registrar General.

1b: In the case of sudden or accidental death where the Doctor cannot complete a certificate, then the Coroner will become involved. Your first contact will be the Police who will assist you through the coronial process. Once the Coroner has approved the release of the deceased person the funeral service can take place.

2: The Funeral Director will liaise with either party as necessary, to secure all the paperwork required to proceed with the funeral service arrangements.

3: The Death Certificate you require comes from the Attorney General’s Office from the branch of the Registrar General of Births, Deaths and Marriages (Registrar).

After the funeral service has been conducted the Funeral Director will register the Death with the Registrar, and the Certificate will be returned to the Funeral Director generally within 5-7 working days.

4: The Funeral Director will then advise the family when the Registrar’s Certificate arrives.


17. How much does a funeral cost?

Funerals are perceived as expensive and may cost comparatively, a little or a lot. Your Funeral Director will advise you of the best decisions based on your needs, and not what the Funeral Director thinks. The cost will depend entirely on the type of service you want, and any additional features you choose to include in the Funeral Service.

Please view our ‘Funeral Service Options’ and ‘Our Amenities’, on the Funeral Planning page for more details. Once you have an idea of what you want and know what components you wish to include, we can talk it through with you and provide you a more accurate estimate of costs.


18. Are there any agencies that assist with funeral expenses?

Yes, there are such agencies and we have provided you their website links. Please note, we are not affiliated with any of these providers, but have researched information about Government and non-Government agencies that may be able to assist with funeral expenses, depending upon eligibility and individual circumstances. Please also refer to the helpful links to 'Support Agencies' for more detailed information.


19. How do I get my loved ones ashes after the cremation?

The Geraldton Cemetery Board will automatically send you a letter advising all the details for collection. Ashes are available to collect from the Cemetery office 48 hours after the cremation. However, if you wish to collect them sooner than this, please speak with the Funeral Director who may be able to co-ordinate this with the Cemetery on your behalf.

You will need to call the Cemetery to arrange a time for the collection of Ashes that is mutually suitable for both parties. The Geraldton Cemetery phone number is 08 99212707, and their office hours are 10.00am - 3.00pm Monday to Friday.

It is important to note that the person who signed the cremation permit application form is the person who is required to collect the Ashes. The Cemetery will require you to present identification at the time of collection.

If you would prefer the funeral home to collect Ashes on your behalf, please let us know so that we can arrange for you to complete a ‘Statutory Declaration’ giving us permission to do this for you. You can then arrange a suitable time to collect the Ashes from us, or if you would prefer, we can arrange to have them sent to you.


20. Can I make arrangements in advance for my own funeral/a pre-arranged funeral?

The widely publicised pre-paid and pre-planned funeral options available to people these days, has prompted lots of enquiries about making funeral arrangements in advance often referred to as pre-planning a funeral.

Yes, you can make arrangements in advance. We are always available to assist you, and on enquiry, we can provide you with a booklet ‘A Thoughtful Gesture’ that will guide you to collect all the relevant details necessary to finalise your arrangements. This will also provide you an opportunity to discuss your plans with your family, friends or spiritual advisor before finalising any funeral plan arrangements.


21. Can I pre-pay my funeral?

In terms of pre-paying a funeral, it is really important to carefully research the options offered by the many companies out there today. There is a lot of conjecture about funeral bonds versus funeral insurance so it is important to do your homework. Please feel welcome to have a ‘no obligation’ chat with us if you are uncertain about your options.

Fixed Pre-paid Funeral Plan Packages:
In the Eastern States a large number of funeral homes are well positioned to offer fixed pre-paid funeral plan packages. The reason they can do this is funeral supplies, products and services are more readily available at more competitive prices. Some states are legislated to own and operate their own crematoriums meaning they are able to factor in the cost of a cremation package rate, and also have the option to charge less than the Cemeteries and pass on those benefits to their client families.

Funeral homes in Regional Centres like ours, are more isolated, and are less likely to subscribe to fixed pre-paid funeral plan packages due to less cost effective product options, availability, and freight costs. In addition, the Western Australian Government presently does not allow the privatisation of crematoriums, meaning that funeral homes in WA cannot own and operate their own crematoriums. Particularly with cremations there is no competition for Cemetery Boards in WA, enabling them to set and increase their prices annually, at their own discretion. Sadly, this just adds to the increased cost of funerals every year.

Funeral Bonds:
It is now legislated that funeral homes cannot hold funds on someone’s behalf to cover the cost of a funeral, unless death is imminent. Having worked in conjunction with a number of providers over time, we believe we have found a product and company that has, and will continue serve our community well.

We choose to endorse a very reputable funeral bond company ‘Sureplan Gold’, based on the excellent service history we have enjoyed with them over many years. There are flexible options with this company and we know first-hand the peace of mind these options can give families.

You can choose to make a one-time lump sum payment or small regular payments that suit your circumstances, or a combination of both. In both cases whatever you contribute to the fund, will grow like any other investment. However, the advantage of this kind of investment is that it is treated as money spent and prepaid funerals are ‘exempt assets’ for pension means testing purposes. Thus prepaid funerals are not counted for the Age Pension ‘assets test’ or ‘income test’. Compared to money you may have invested in your bank account, which is treated as an asset, and any interest earned on this account is treated as income.

There is a threshold limit set by Government for this type of investment which has recently increased to $12,500.00.

There are provisions for you to assign the funeral bond to the funeral home, and all this means is that the funeral home will take care of all the administration to get the funds released when the time comes, taking all the pressure off the family. Be assured that should your circumstances change, these bonds can be transferred to any other funeral home/assignee, at your request.

It is important to note that if the funeral bond is assigned to the funeral home and there are any excess funds after the funeral account is paid, they will be refunded immediately by the funeral home, to the designated beneficiary, upon receipt of the payment from Sureplan Gold.

We trust Sureplan and know that they do exactly what they publicise, and when it comes time to access the funds they make the process as easy as possible. The payout is handled immediately on notification of a death, and the funeral home may be able to assist you with any additional paperwork if it is required.


22. What happens if I already have a pre-paid funeral plan?

Pre-paid funeral plans are contractual arrangements.

Generally family, friends or an executor will be managing this fund after your death so it would be wise to inform someone of its existence.

Some pre-paid plans may cover all or only some of the funeral costs. For peace of mind, it might be wise for you to contact the fund yourself to confirm the financial status of your plan.

Funeral Directors have a lot of experience with pre-paid funeral plans so may be able to offer some guidance if the person designated to manage the fund is uncertain of what to do.

We strongly recommend that you discuss any funeral planning and pre-pay options with family, close friends or an executor before committing to signing up for one.