After a person passes away, the executor or a family member will be asked to provide details for that person which together with the medical cause of death certificate from the medical practitioner who pronounced the death will become the Death Certificate.
The details on the Death Certificate include marital status, occupation, family details, burial or cremation details and the cause of death.
Usually, the funeral director will complete the form from the details provided to them and arrange for the registration of the death. The Death Certificate will then be forwarded to you in 2 to 3 weeks after the funeral.
The Death Certificate can be used to administer a person's estate, initially to notify government agencies, banks, superannuation accounts, share registries and any other associations that need to be dealt with when a person dies. These entities may require further documents such as a grant of Probate to finalise administration of an estate but they do take note of the details on the Death Certificate.
If a person dies intestate, without a Will, then the details on the Death Certificate set out who is entitled to be the administrator of that person's estate and to whom the estate will pass.
Death Certificates are also important for historical reasons as this document will be held on record by the office of Births Deaths and Marriages. Particularly these days as many people are interested in researching their family ancestry. If the Death Certificate is incomplete or incorrect it may prevent a future historian from discovering you are related to the Queen.
Should you be the person to whom it falls to provide the details for the Death Certificate, it is important that you complete the details with as much detail as possible. This document the last record for the deceased and as they unfortunately cannot provide the details themselves, look at it as a privilege to do it for them.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.