Navigating post-death procedures and formalities

As a way of supporting recently bereaved families navigate post-death formalities, COTA Victoria has produced Death of a Partner: a practical guide for partners and families.

In their work with the community, Anita Smith and Anne MacBean (COTA Victoria volunteers) found that many people struggle to manage the legal, financial and administrative requirements when their partner dies.

At this time, people are at their most vulnerable both emotionally and financially. Those who are in receipt of an Aged Pension or a Carers Pension are faced with having their income much reduced, while simultaneously needing to pay costs to change accounts, titles and other legal/ financial documentation from one name to another.

The processes, documentation and in-person attendance requirements are not standardised. They vary from one agency and company to another. Government Departments, semi-Government Departments, Local Government, banks, utility companies and telecommunication companies each have their own requirements.

It is very difficult to find information on what to do. It is confusing for people when they are either refused assistance because they have not provided an original or a copy of the Death Certificate or they are told that the Death Certificate has to be sighted before assistance is given.

Some of the aspects explored in this guide include:

  • Timeline of things to do after the death of a partner
  • What to do immediately, and the first few days, after the death
  • Funeral, burial or cremation: your choices
  • Settling your partner’s estate
  • Finances after the death of a partner
  • Providing notification of a death and getting help
  • Accessing and closing online accounts
  • Looking after yourself after a death
  • Sample letter for notification of death

We hope this guide will assist families.

Download Death of a Partner: a guide for families or request a printed copy at or by phone on 1300 13 50 90.

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