Losing a parent is never an easy experience, no matter whether it happens when you’re prepared for it or not. There is a great level of emotional stress and trauma at this time, which can make it extremely difficult to make any decisions. 

If you are the main surviving relative of a parent, unfortunately the responsibility to make arrangements is left on your shoulders. This is why we’ve put together this guide to help you during this time. 

First steps.

These first actions depend on whether your parent has passed away at home, in hospital, in a nursing home or somewhere else. 

If the death occurs at a hospital or nursing home, the staff will need the details of the preferred funeral director to make arrangements. If the hospital or nursing home is small, they may not have space to hold the body for long, so arrangements will need to be made quickly.

If the death occurs at home or another location, you will need to call their local doctor or GP to verify the death. If the death was unexpected, you can contact the police or ambulance. A doctor will need to verify the death and write a death certificate. Ensure you get a copy of the death certificate, as this will be required before administration of the Will takes place.

Read more: our specific Estate Administration guide for what to do after someone dies.

Contacting family and friends.

It’s important to notify close family or friends immediately after the passing. They can help you navigate this difficult time by being there for emotional support, as well as help with organising the funeral, Will and other legal and financial affairs. 

This can be something as simple as contacting a power company to tell them that the person has passed away, filing tax returns, or other mentally challenging tasks that can easily fall through the cracks.

Take time to grieve.

The loss of a parent is a deeply traumatic experience, no matter the kind of relationship you have with them. Grief is a range of overwhelming emotions and feelings that can be difficult to understand or communicate to others.

There is no right or wrong way to grieve, and you might find that your feelings and reactions change as you learn to live with the grief, which is perfectly normal. 

Don’t feel rushed or pressured into making any decision, especially large financial decisions such as a funeral. Take all the time you need to grieve and lean on the important people in your life to help where they can. 

Last Will and Testament.

Hopefully your parent communicated where they left their Will or you have an idea of where to find it. Their Will should state how their estate, which is made up of property and assets, should be distributed after the death. The executor of the will is responsible for paying off any debts and distributing the assets. If they have not left a Will, the law will dictate how the estate is distributed. 

Your parent may have also had funeral insurance or prepaid for a funeral, which may be included in their Will and is important to know for planning a funeral or memorial.

Funeral arrangements.

Unless your parent has specified their wishes in their Will or prepaid for a funeral, it will be up to you to help organise a funeral.

Some things to consider is whether your parent would have wanted a burial or cremation, and what kind of service they would like.

A dedicated funeral provider will be able to take you through all the options for a personal farewell for your parent.

At Bare, we believe the first week after your loved one has passed is such an emotionally sensitive time for you, and not a time to be thinking about organising a potentially expensive funeral service. We can assist you with the cremation service and later on when you are ready, you can plan the perfect send off for your parent. 

Other considerations.

There will be plenty of administrative tasks to complete after your parent passes away, but you won’t need to worry about every single thing straight away. Lean on the people in your life to help with some of these tasks.

Admin tasks could include:

  • Collecting insurances and check superannuation for any insurance
  • Closing bank accounts and cancelling credit cards
  • Transfer ownership of property or vehicles
  • Make copies of all important documents e.g. death certificate

Note that some of these tasks may be tied to your parent’s estate, so check with the executor of the Will about what to do.

If you would like to arrange a cremation with or without a simple memorial with Bare, you can head to our website or give us a call 24/7 at 1800 071 176.